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Public Library 

Kansas City, Mo. 


DEC 08 '87 






Professor of Psychology in the 
University of Illinois 





All Rights Reserved 
This book or any part thereof must not 
be reproduced m any form without 
the written permission of the publisher. 


Printed in the U. S. A. 


Throughout the preparation of this volume I have been guided by 
a central purpose rather than by any fixed and predetermined point 
of view. This purpose is to examine the determination of human and 
animal behavior in its varied aspects. From one standpoint the study 
of motivation is concerned with energetics, i.e. f with those conditions 
which evoke specific bodily movements and which regulate the gen- 
eral level of activity. From another standpoint the study is an investi- 
gation of the factors which regulate and control the course of activity. 
This includes all those activities designated by psychologists as 
purposive behavior. From still another point of view our problem 
relates to the development of motivating factors : it is a genetic study 
of the change and interplay of interests, desires, habit organizations, 
and similar determiners of behavior. 

The stream of contemporary psychological thought has many 
cross currents. The impartial observer can readily detect these trends 
of opinion in the varied researches upon motivation. Some psychol- 
ogists stress the conscious experiences of individuals and are con- 
cerned with the role in human behavior of desire, goal-awareness, 
pleasant and unpleasant feeling. Others rely upon the objective facts 
of human and animal behavior, which they explain by reference to 
bodily processes, thus resolving the study of motives to a branch of 
physiological psychology. Again, some currents in the stream of 
thought move toward a biological explanation of behavior; others 
toward interpretation in terms of social factors. Some move toward 
environmentalisrn; others toward explanation in terms of heredity. 

I have tried to assume the role of an impartial onlooker, that of 
the proverbial man from Mars. An investigation of motivation pre- 
sents so many aspects of the subject to the student that a single 
description would be misleading; the strict adherence to any fixed 
viewpoint would give a badly distorted impression. In so far as I 
have a bias, that has been expressed at the close of Chapter X. 

The book is intended for students who have taken an introductory 


college course In psychology. It has been used by me as a textbook 
for a course upon the problems of motivation. The volume will be 
found serviceable as a collateral textbook or a reference work In 
courses dealing with human and animal behavior, and with educa- 
tional, social, and applied psychology. It will also be useful In 
those more specialized courses upon some single topic such as learn- 
ing or the affective processes. The book, it is hoped, will aid all 
students of psychology who are seeking a scientifically sound, factual 
account of the motivational bases of human and animal behavior. 
Finally, to ttxe educator, political scientist, economist, historian, 
sociologist, lawyer, minister, social worker, and others who are con- 
cerned with the activities of the human individual, this book aims 
to present a scientifically sound account of the fundamental sources 
of human conduct. 

The book is factual in its approach. Most of the experiments upon 
which the volume is based have been carried out during the past ten 
or fifteen years. Speculation and theory have been strictly subordi- 
nated to the presentation of laboratory findings. A final dogmatic 
statement of the principles of motivation at the present time would 
be premature, but the student is invited to formulate hypotheses and 
to criticize them in so far as he is able to do so. 

The bibliography found at the end of each chapter lists topically 
the works referred to in that chapter, plus a few other titles which 
will be found useful in studying the field. Inasmuch as we have had 
to select materials from a large body of literature, the lists of refer- 
ences should not be regarded as complete bibliographies, but only 
as the more pertinent guides to the available sources. The questions 
and exercises presented at the close of the text are intended for use 
by the beginning student, in study and review. 

I am indebted to the editors of the following psychological jour- 
nals for permission to reproduce numerous illustrations: American 
Journal of Psychology; Archives of Psychology; Comparative Psy- 
chology Monographs; Journal of Comparative Psychology; Journal 
of Experimental Psychology; Psychological Monographs; Psycho- 
logical Review. Several long quotations have been made with the 
permission of the authors and of the following publishers: Harcourt, 
Brace and Co.; Henry Holt and Co.; Houghton Mifflin Co.; Mis- 
souri Historical Society; Charles Scribner's Sons; D. van Nostrand Co. 


For a critical reading of parts of the manuscript prior to publication 
and for valuable constructive suggestions I am indebted to the follow- 
ing psychologists: E. E. Anderson, J. F. Dashiell, A. W. Kornhauser, 
S. Rosenzweig, and C. P. Stone. My heaviest obligation is to my 
wife, Josephine Kennedy Young, who has read the manuscript pains- 
takingly and made many helpful suggestions for its improvement. 

Urbana, Illinois 
January i, 1936. 




The practical importance of motives and incentives 2 

Motivation in the school 2 

Motivation in industry 6 

Motivation within the individual life 9 

(A) Phobia of running water 9 

(JB) Inferiority complex n 

(C) Conflict: Fear versus sense of duty 12 

Motivational increments and decrements 14 

Incentives and reaction time 14 

Incentives and muscular strength 16 

Effect of praise and reproof upon intelligence-test scores 18 

Comparison of motivating conditions in animal learning 20 

Change in effectiveness of a motive 21 

The quality of highly motivated work 23 

The effect of a combination of motivating factors upon perform- 
ance 24 

Effect of combined incentives on the performance of school 

children 25 

Success and failure combined with praise and reproof, reward 

and punishment 27 

Candy reward combined with other incentives 33 

Definition of the problem and scope of motivational psychology . . 35 

The attitudinal approach 35 

-Physical and mental attitudes towards the study of motivation . . 36 

The purposive definition of motivation 37 

- The question "Why?" 40 

The nature of explanation in scientific psychology 41 

The relation of motivational to explanatory psychology 42 

Sf The definition of motivation in terms of the release of energy ... 43 

'-/The regulation of energy expenditure 44 

Motives and incentives 45 

Final definition of motivational psychology 45 


Specific activities 48 

Cycles of specific activities and of general activity 49 




The satiation of specific activities 50 

The level of general activity 52 

The oestrous rhythm in the white rat 54 

Activity and eating time 55 

Activity and age 58 

Activity and illumination 59 

Activity and temperature 60 

Activity and the endocrine glands 63 

Energetics 65 

The problem of nervous and mental energy 65 

-The physical aspect of behavior 68 

Critique of the doctrine of drive 70 

The energetic conception of drive 75 

Drive versus drives ! 78 

Bodily need and homeostasis 80 

The objective criteria of bodily need 80 

Homeostasis 81 

'^Conclusion 84 


Methods, apparatus, illustrative results 88 

A classification of methods 88 

I. Activity methods 89 

II. Counterbalance of motives 90 

A. The method of choice 90 

B. The method of preference 91 

C. The obstruction method 93 

III. Contrast of motives 96 

A. The learning method 98 

B. The shift-of -motivation method 98 

The primary drives 103 

* I. Hunger and the regulation of eating 103 

The bodily basis of the hunger pang 103 

Free-choice feeding experiments 105 

Cravings and aversions for foods 107 

Food preferences 109 

Food deprivation in relation to behavior 113 

A. Food deprivation and activity level 113 

B. Food deprivation and maze performance 116 

C. Food deprivation and pain avoidance 117 

-II. Thirst -. 119 

Degree of thirst and the obstruction experiment 120 

The experience and bodily mechanism of thirst 121 

III. Maternal behavior 122 


IV. Sexual drive 125 

The basis of sexual behavior in the rat 125 

Sexual drive in the rat as revealed by the obstruction 

method 127 

Sexual behavior in monkeys and baboons 129 

V. Other fundamental drives 130 

Concluding statement 131 


The bodily basis of drives 136 

Physiological differentiation of the primary drives 136 

/Bodily mechanisms of the basic drives 137 

Vrhe environmental control of behavior 139 

The emergency reaction 139 

The reactions to novelty 141 

Playful behavior , 142 

s^SodaJ^eJb^doi^^ 144 

The complexity and interrelationship of motivating conditions .... 145 

Examples of the interdependence of motivating conditions 146 

The relative dominance and hierarchy of drives 148 

Analysis and differentiation of the primary drives 152 

Primary and secondary drives 154 

Inclinations to act and their bodily basis 155 

. .Moods 158 

/ The instinct doctrine 160 

I i. Instinct as unlearned reflex behavior. 160 

"! , "\ 

' 2. Instinct as unlearned purposive behavior, 162 

' Grhique of the instinct doctrine. .^. : 165 

The acquiring of purposes. ! . '.' 167 

What kinds of motivation have actually been used in experiments 

upon animal learning? 168 

Does unmotivated learning occur? 17* 

The acquiring of position goals and spatial orientation 171 

The goal gradient 176 

The bodily basis for knowledge, foresight, and purpose 179 

Central preparation and readiness to act 182 

Conscious purpose and purposive determination , . 184 

Conclusion 186 


Specific determinations 190 

Bodily postures 190 

Internal determinations in the delayed reaction 193 

Experiments upon organic set (specific determination) 195 

Additional examples of specific determination 204 



The so-called "will" factor 205 

The "will to learn" 206 

"Will" versus fatigue 210 

Voluntary attention 213 

Deliberation and will 214 

Adjustments of the subject to his task 216 

Quantitative set 218 

Visual guidance 219 

The subject's method of learning .. . 221 

Understanding the task 223 

Working with knowledge of results 224 

Attitude towards the task 226 

The factor of habit 227 

Pavlov's researches * 229 

Motivation versus drill in human learning 230 

Organization and dynamic determinations 232 

Bodily structure as a limiting condition of behavior 232 

Latent neural organization and dynamic determination 233 

Neural and mental organization 237 

The verbal control of behavior 239 

Attitudes and their measurement 241 

Tensions and their release 245 

The cessation of repeated voluntary activities 248 

Perseveration 249 

- -Need, desire, craving, want, wish 251 

Need, desire, craving 251 

The wants of children 253 

The Freudian wish 258 

Summary and conclusion 260 


Positive and negative reactions 266 

Examples of simple acceptance and rejection 266 

Beneception and nociception 269 

Appetite and aversion 271 

Appetite and consummatory reaction 271 

Inventories of appetites and aversions 273 

Appetites and aversions in relation to bodily processes 276 

Incentive character of environmental objects 277 

Punishment 278 

The electric shock as punishment 279 

The Yerkes-Dodson law 280 

Degree of punishment versus hunger 287 

Effects of punishment 288 




Reward 290 

"Appropriateness" of reward 291 

Quantity of reward 295 

Kind and quality of reward 296 

Introduction of reward (latent learning) 297 

Removal of reward and the curve of "unlearning" 299 

Symbolic reward 301 

Inadequate reward (transient learning) 303 

Delay of reward 305 

Reward versus punishment 306 

Pain avoidance and hunger 306 

Punishment and reward in a social setting 310 

Concluding statement 314 


Interests 320 

The measurement of interests 322 

Interest and capacity 323 

The shifting of interests 323 

The hedonistic explanation of learning 327 

The law of effect 327 

Pleasant and unpleasant effects . : 330 

The experiences of success and failure 332 

Acquiring likes and dislikes , . 332 

The acquired basis of affective reactions and value judgments . . 334 

The nature of pleasantness and unpleasantness 337 

Simple affective reactions to stimulating objects 341 

Affective reactions to taste solutions 343 

Affective reactions to olfactory stimuli 345 

A test of affective sensitivity 348 

Affective reactions to thermal, organic, auditory, and visual 

stimuli 349 

The conception of affective reaction 351 

Pleasant and unpleasant feeling in relation to muscular activity ... 355 

Unpleasantness in relation to the strength of voluntary movement . . 355 

Pleasant and unpleasant feeling in relation to organic response . . 359 

Pleasant and unpleasant feeling in relation to conflict of responses 362 

The mental conditions of pleasant and unpleasant feeling 365 

Fulfilment and thwarting of wishes in relation to pleasant and 

unpleasant feeling 365 

Good and bad news 368 

Happiness and unhappiness 369 

Under what conditions do we laugh and weep? 372 



Mental organization as a condition of the affective judgment 372 

Annoyances 376 

Preferential discriminations 378 

Preferential discrimination and affective reaction 380 

Changes in preference with age 381 

The relation of pleasant and unpleasant feeling to motivation: 

factual hedonism 382 

Factual hedonism 383 


Prestige motivation 389 

Physique and leadership 390 

\Physique and the attitude of inferiority 391 

'Compensations for intellectual and social inferiority 393 

The basis of prestige motivation 394 

Effect of a group upon individual performance 395 

The effect of co-workers upon individual achievement 395 

Social inhibition with stutterers 398 

Experiments on competition and rivalry 399 

The motivational effects of competition in sport: bicycle racing . 399 
Rivalry in relation to rate of tapping and strength of grip 401 

.Competitive and non-competitive attitudes 403 

Working for one's self versus working for one's group 404 

"""^Rivalry in the class room 406 

Praise and reproof 408 

Praise and reproof 410 

The social control of behavior through verbal suggestion and imi- 
tation 416 

Suggested inhibitions 418 

Suggestion during hypnosis 419 

Therapeutic use of verbal suggestion 420 

Imitation 420 

The determinants of belief (attitude) 421 

Primitive credulity 422 

Belief and desire 422 

The pathology of belief 425 

Determinants of belief 427 

^Concluding statement about social motivation 428 


The significance of emotional reactions 437 

Emotional reactions as adaptive 437 

Emotional reactions as disruptive 441 

The kinds and conditions of emotional disruption 443 

How can these views be synthesized? 446 



^The definition and classification of emotional processes . 449 

The etymology of emotion words 450 

^The classification of emotions 452 

Different aspects of emotional activity 458 

The physiology of emotion 461 

The neural basis of conscious emotion 463 

The function of the autonomic nervous system during normal 

and emotional states 465 

The utility of internal bodily changes during the emergency 

reaction 470 

The role of emotional reactions in behavior 471 

After-effects of emotional reactions 472 

Feelings and emotions in relation to verbal organization 474 

The doctrine of sentiment 477 

Concluding statement 478 


The conflict of determinations 483 

The physical and physiological basis of conflict 484 

Mental conflict 487 

Distinguishing characteristics of conflict 490 

The relative dominance of motives 493 

Adjustments to thwarting 494 

Adjustment through avoiding the source of difficulty 495 

Adjustment through inhibition 495 

Adjustment through learning 495 

Persistent non-adjustment 496 

Regression 497 

Reactions of self-defense 499 

Substitute activities: results of thwarting the sexual drive 502 

Diffusion and compensation 505 

Repression 506 

Dissociation 507 

The retreat from reality 510 

Methods of investigating motivational structure 510 

The test of relative values 511 

Psychoanalysis 5 X 3 

The controlled verbal-association method 518 

Physiological methods of studying emotional conflict 520 

The neurotic questionnaire 520 

Luria's technique . . . . 523 

Fundamental points of view towards psychology and the principles 

of motivation 5 2 5 

The contrast between the physical and the mental standpoints . . 526 



The multiple-aspect view of the organism and environment. . . 529 

A basic aim 531 

The hypothesis of a physical mind 531 

Fundamental principles of motivation 532 





"Motivation, instead of being a special problem, a rather interesting 
hobby for those who wish to leave the psychological highroad, is a 
central problem in relation to which others must be seen." 


All behavior is motivated. Getting out of bed when the alarm 
clock rings, brushing the teeth, shaving, selecting the day's necktie, 
ordering rolls and coflfee or ham and eggs from the menu card, 
picking up a paper to read the news these everyday activities are all 
causally determined. You take them for granted, generally being 
unconscious of any motive determining what is being done. Never- 
theless a definite motivation is invariably present. 

You resolve to make an apology to your manager, but when con- 
fronted with his austere face postpone doing so. You decline an 
invitation over the telephone, and later, upon learning that a popular 
social leader has accepted the same invitation, you regret your decision 
of the moment. You are in doubt as to whether to walk or ride to 
the office. You deliberate: walking saves gasoline and is healthful; 
riding saves time. When you discover that some other member of 
your family needs the car you suddenly decide to walk. This decision 
is motivated by considerations which are balanced one against 

To the layman the analysis of motives is the attempt to answer the 
question "Why?" "Why did Johnnie steal the apples?" "What wish 
or desire caused Mary to run away from school?" "What purpose or 
motive did the criminal have for shooting his victim?" "What led 
Jones to decide upon teaching as a profession?" "Why . . . ?" Such 
questions call for answers and challenge the psychologist. 

The average man today is aware that purposes and desires lead him 
to act; he imputes similar conscious processes to other individuals to 
help him understand and appreciate their conduct. If he has read a 


little psychoanalysis, he knows that unconscious motives influence 
human behavior. Often the reasons which an individual gives for 
his conduct are nothing but the barest rationalizations defense reac- 
tions, though he may not realize it which conceal some genuine but 
irrational determinant of conduct. 

Better to understand human behavior, better to gain insight into 
and explain the actions of one's self and others, the student turns 
to psychology and to the study of motivation. Practical considerations 
also lead to this study. We all desire to influence and control human 
Behavior our own and that of others. 

A student once applied what he had learned about motivation to 
his work as a salesman, and before the semester was over had won 
a national prize in salesmanship. Credit belongs to his energy, his 
friendly manner, his aggressive personality, his ability to sell, and 
certainly in part to his knack of applying scientific motivational 
principles to the everyday task. 

The aim of the present book is not to create better salesmen, adver- 
tisers, and politicians. There is little doubt that many of the principles 
of motivational psychology are of great practical importance, but 
mere knowledge is not enough to achieve results. Knowledge of 
motivational psychology will not necessarily make one a master of 
men, any more than knowledge about the construction of a violin 
will make one a virtuoso. The art of controlling behavior has to be 
acquired, as does any other art, by diligent practice. 


In every situation that vitally concerns human behavior questions 
of motivation arise. Before we analyze the problem of motivation 
within psychology we will examine a series of materials which richly 
illustrate motivational factors in their concrete settings. 

Motivation in the School. Two quotations from the Wilsons' 
book The Motivation of School Wor\ present a contrast and a moral 
which scarcely need any comment. 

If a child is constantly held to work in which he has no interest, 
he gradually develops the habit of divided attention, neglect of the 
work in hand, pretense, and activity only sufficient to satisfy the 
teacher or the one imposing the task. He weakens his moral nature, 
he tends constantly toward deception and hypocrisy. No experienced 


teacher can have failed to notice this tendency. John is not interested 
in his grammar. The work is upon the conjugation of the verb. It 
is abstract work. It is difficult. It makes no appeal to John. However, 
he is held in line by the threats of his teacher, the fear of failing of 
promotion, the coaxing and admonition of his parents, the dread 
of the disapproval of his classmates, and other like considerations. 
The task in hand continues to be abstract and uninteresting. He sees 
no use in it. In itself it makes no appeal to him. Nevertheless, John 
conforms, but how ? Does he throw his whole soul into the work, 
seeing its value and determining to profit by it? Far from it! He 
gives just enough attention and energy to satisfy the teacher, parent, 
and classmate. He thinks of the ball game while trying to study his 
grammar. Again and again he finds his attention drifting, and again 
and again he pulls himself together for the work before him. When 
the class is called, he is not prepared, but defends himself, if dis- 
covered, by saying that he put in full time upon the assignment. 
Anyway, he is about as well prepared as the others. He steals furtive 
glances at his open book, listens for whispered promptings from his 
classmates, "dodgfcs and ducks," and comes away from the recitation 
more convinced than ever that the whole thing amounts to nothing. 

And now in sharp contrast follows a picture which shows how 
school work moves forward when adequately motivated. The quo- 
tation describes a May-day party which was used to good advantage 

A great many very interesting real problems grew out of the de- 
cision of a third-grade class to give a May-day party to which their 
mothers were to be invited. Under the skillful management of the 
teacher, the children carried the responsibility for the party from 
its inception to its completion. They wished to earn the money 
necessary to defray all expenses and to manage the development of 
the program, the reception of the guests, the presentation of the 
entertainment, and the serving of the refreshments. 

During the progress of the work, and following it, the teacher 
based much of her school work upon the problems the children 
found it necessary to solve. Problems solved during the manual train- 
ing and art lessons grew out of the need for a May basket and a 
program for each guest. Many problems in arithmetic arose in esti- 
mating the cost of the party and in figuring up the purchases made. 
These were met and solved in the arithmetic lesson. The following, 


selected from the teacher's list as reported to her superintendent, are 


1. There are 50 pupils in our room. If each pupil comes and each 
pupil's mother comes, how many will be at our party ? How many 
will it make if we also invite the 4 supervisors who teach us ? 

2. Eight mothers replied to our invitation that they cannot come; 
how many should we expect at our party then ? 

3. How much ice-cream must we get to serve 96 guests ? If a pint 

of ice-cream will serve 4 persons, i quart will serve persons. 

One gallon will then serve persons. It will, therefore, take 

-~ gallons to serve 96 persons. 

4. One gallon of ice-cream costs 80 cents, so 3 gallons will cost 
us$ . 

5. If we serve each person 2 nabiscoes, we will need 


6. There are 50 pupils in our room. If each child earns a nickel, 
we will have $-- . 

7. Our teacher gave us 50 cents she made. Our $2.50 and her 50 
cents will give us $ to spend for refreshments. 

8. Our ice-cream will cost us $2.40, so we will have cents 

left to buy nabiscoes. 

Many additional problems were met in determining the number 
of programs, dishes, spoons, napkins, and chairs which would be 
needed for the party. Many of the problems were different from 
those the pupils had had in the arithmetic in use. Many original, 
ways of solving the problems were therefore developed. 

Interesting compositions were written in" which each told how he 
earned his money and in which the success of the party was recorded. 
Notes were written asking the first grade to make colored-paper 
chains with which to decorate the room, another grade to make 
programs for distribution to the guests, and other grades for flowers 
to decorate the room and for chairs to seat the guests. Finally a 
formal invitation was written to each guest invited. After the party 
was over, all who assisted were thanked in a written note or in a 
personal message borne by some pupil. A gentleman who con- 
tributed some paper napkins received a very courteous and detailed 
note of thanks. 

The following are specimens, chosen from a large number re- 
ported, which illustrate the kind of writing the children did. The 


occasion for each bit of writing is evident from the preceding ex- 
planation : 


I earned my nickel by not crying for five days, but I could hardly 
keep from it. 


I said to mama, "I want to earn a nickel." She said, "If you will 
wash the dishes this noon, I will give you a nickel." So I went right 
to work and did them. She gave me my nickel. . . . 

When the party was over and all the courtesies due had been 
attended to, teacher and pupils alike felt that they had not only 
enjoyed having the little social, but that they had had an infinitely 
more valuable series of lessons in music, drawing, writing, language, 
and arithmetic than they could have gained in the same time merely 
through the faithful use of their textbooks in the usual way. They 
really felt that they had actually used them more, although in every 
case it had been to get help in solving some problem met in planning 
for the party. Every child was eager to have each thing exactly 
correct, and so he gladly used any book or got any lesson that would 
help in completing the plans for the social. 

In a highly significant report upon incentives to study, Crawford 
writes : 

President Hadley once commented on how much easier teaching 
would be if we could only elevate study to the level of extra- 
curriculum activity. This characteristic epigram strikes profoundly 
at what the writer feels is the root of our present-day teaching prob- 
lem. Just that is what our course of study needs. In an age which 
colleges have taught to be curious and skeptical, reasons for studying 
are no longer to be taken on faith. We encourage students to ask 
the why and wherefore of events; we teach them to be guided by 
logical inferences from observed phenomena; we caution them to 
beware of experimental errors and of conclusions based on hearsay 
and then we berate them for needing to be shown why after all 
they should take a more lively interest in Classical Civilization or 
the Mind-Body problem than in the ability to kick a field goal from 
the forty-yard line. As Richardson has said, the coach is unique in 


having "a class painfully intent on getting what he has to offer; not 
sixty per cent of it, but all of it." 

We are not attempting here to uphold the present overemphasis 
on such activities, but simply to point out that a student's incentive 
in such directions is readily aroused because there he can see his 
objectives ; where he is going in the classroom, or what the whole 
curricular picture means, too frequently is "seen through a glass 
darkly." In fact we must recognize the influence of such specific 
motivation factors upon American college students whether we like 
it or not ... 

Purpose, for the student, is apparently so lacking in our present- 
day curriculum that the course of study in itself offers largely insuf- 
ficient positive incentives to many of our potentially ablest and most 
worth-while undergraduates. 

This would seem to justify a warning not lightly to legislate 
against such sources of motivation as we have, however we may 
regard them educationally at least until we have successfully substi- 
tuted better ones. What goal, indeed, are we making sufficiently 
clear and magnetic to our college student for him to be driven by a 
higher form of urge than those we have just discussed? Student 
activities have evolved as an outlet for the energy and ambition of 
those to whom the present purposeless, disoriented -course of study 
frequently offers, of itself, an entirely inadequate appeal. To curb 
the activities without correcting the evil from which they sprang 
curricular sterility might but drive undergraduates to find other 
and less desirable means of diversion. 

Motivation in Industry. It has been found that the indus- 
trial worker may be spurred on to a higher level of output by the use 
of special incentives. The significant work of Kitson at the Lake Side 
Press, Chicago, illustrates well this principle. 

Kitson first determined the output of forty experienced hand com- 
positors and developed a rating scale which was based upon the 
number of lines of each kind of type an expert could set in an hour. 
The level of an expert was taken as 100 per cent, and 75 per cent of 
this standard was regarded as a fair day's work. Every compositor 
in the plant was paid a flat hourly rate whether he reached the 75 
per cent point or not; and every man was told that as soon as he 
exceeded the 75 per cent point he would receive an additional sum. 
The amount of this bonus depended directly upon the number of 
units of work accomplished. 


An objective measure of output gave definite records of per- 
formance both before and after the introduction of the bonus in- 
centive. These records were kept for a period of twenty weeks after 
the introduction of the bonus system, and thereafter production scores 
were obtained at intervals of three months for a year. The change 
in output under the new system was carefully watched. 

Apr. July 

FIG. i. 



Solid-line curve shows the production score for the better half of a group of com- 
positors; dash-line curve shows the same for the poorer half of the group. 

The result of the experiment was an average increase of production 
score from 59 per cent to 105 per cent. Not only did the general 
average increase but also individual output increased steadily during 
the first twenty weeks, in every case but one. The single exception 
was a compositor who started with the highest initial record (102 
per cent) and declined two units. Apart from this exception, indi- 
vidual workers increased from 2 per cent to no per cent, the average 


gain being 38.9 per cent (average deviation, 19.3). It is significant 
that the average production score for the group of forty compositors 
had reached the 75 per cent mark by the end of the fourth week. 

In analyzing his results Kitson divided the workers into two 
groups on the basis of skill. Figure i presents the results graphically. 
At the end of the twentieth week the averages for the two groups 
were very different, but after that time the low group continued to 
gain and the high group declined slightly. At the close of the experi- 
ment the two groups appeared to be approaching a common level 
markedly above the initial one. The curves show that the earlier effect 
of the bonus system was to increase individual differences, spreading 
the good and the poor groups farther apart, but the later effect was 
to level" off these differences, bringing the groups closer together. 

The years of experience for the two grotips of workers used in 
the experiment averaged about the same. Kitson states that those 
with long experience did not, because of it, turn out more work than 
the others. In fact, under the incentive system they turned out less 
work. The experienced men were older and probably slower in their 
movements than the others; further, the older men, Kitson believes, 
were firmly settled in habits of work, some of which were inefficient. 
The younger men, on the other hand, did not have bad habits of 
work so firmly established, and could change with greater ease. The 
increase in speed in the typesetting came about with the elimination 
of wasteful methods of work and acquisition of economical ones. 

Upon this interesting study several comments should be made. 
First, one must not assume that the experiment gives univocal evi- 
dence of economic motivation alone, because in addition to the 
monetary reward the plan involved keeping of production records, 
knowledge of results by the workers, competition with one's own 
record and with that of other workers, a definite objective goal. 
These latter factors of themselves are known to be incentives quite 
apart from monetary reward, a^*W^" sfiafr-see. Second, one might 
naively assume that the introduction of a premium system in a com- 
mercial enterprise induces sudden "Efforts of will" and that the latter 
produce an immediate rise in output. Such was not the case irf this 
experiment. Despite apparently vigorous attempts of the workers 
to attain a maximum, it was a matter of weeks to months before 


wasteful methods of work were eliminated and more effective 
methods discovered and put into operation. The learning was a 
gradual process a slow change from one level of production to 
another brought about after the motivation was varied. Third, the 
charge of labor organizations that a cash premium system speeds 
up the workers at the cost of injury to their health cannot, according 
to Kitson, be proved in this case. The higher level of performance 
was maintained for two years with no indication that the workers 
were seriously overtaxing themselves. 

In situations in which the individual is already performing at a 
level close to his maximum, as in the sweat shops where the "piece 
work 1 ' system of payment exists, increased motivation might lead to 
still greater efforts with resulting injury to the worker's health; but 
when energy expenditure is low and inefficient methods are being 
used, the production level can readily be raised through special in- 
centives, with no harm to the worker. 

Motivation within the Individual Life. It is commonly 
known that our conduct is determined by desires, purposes, fears, 
and similar factors. Even unconscious motives derived from early 
childhood influences determine present behavior. Basic motives are 
well revealed in the case histories of individual lives. Several samples 
are quoted below for illustration ^'although the examples are drawn 
from the field of abnormal psychology, they illustrate certain prin- 
ciples which are valid for normal behavior as well. The mechanisms 
illustrated in the following accounts will be discussed in detail in 
Chapters IX and X. 

(A) Phobia of Running Water* The following case of fear 
of running water originated in a childhood experience which was 
strongly repressed. The example is quoted from Ragby's. Psychology 
of Personality. 

A young woman of good heredity developed during her childhood 
a severe phobia of running water. She was unable to give any 
explanation of her disorder, which persisted without noticeable im- 
provement from approximately^ her seventh to her twentieth year. 
Her fear of splashing sounds was especially intense. For instance, it 
was necessary for her to be in a distant part of the house when the 
bathtub was being filled for her bath, and during the early years it 
often required the combined efforts of three members of the family 


to secure a satisfactory washing. She always struggled violently and 
screamed. During one school session a drinking-fountain was in the 
hall outside her classroom. If the children of the school made much 
noise drinking, she became very frightened, actually fainting on one 
occasion. When she rode on trains, it was necessary to keep the 
window curtain down so that she might not see the streams over 
which the train passed. These are some of the more typical features 
of her reaction to running water. It can be imagined that her life 
was very seriously interfered with by the disorder. 

During the young woman's twentieth year, an aunt came to visit 
at her home. This lady had not seen her niece during the whole 
period of thirteen years through which the phobia had persisted. 
She was met at the station by the mother of the girl who gave a 
brief account of her daughter's condition. On arrival at the home, 
the aunt met the girl at the front steps and said immediately, "I 
have never told." This statement served to provoke a recall of the 
conditions under which the fear of running water had been estab- 
lished. The fact is doubly interesting because such determined efforts 
to stimulate her memory had previously been made by her parents 
and by various physicians. 

The mother, the aunt, and the little girl she was seven years old 
at the time had gone on a picnic. Late in the afternoon, the mother 
decided to return home but the child insisted on being permitted 
to stay for a while longer with her aunt. This was promptly ar- 
ranged on the child's promise to be strictly obedient and the two 
friends went into the woods for a walk. A short time later the little 
girl, neglecting her agreement, ran off alone. When she was finally 
found she was lying wedged among the rocks of a small stream 
with a waterfall pouring down over her head. She was screaming 
with terror. They proceeded immediately to a farm house where 
the wet clothes were dried, but, even after this, the child continued 
to express great alarm lest her mother learn of her disobedience. 
However, her aunt reassured her with the promise, "I will never 
tell." So at last they returned home and to bed. As the older 
woman left the next morning for a distant city, the girl had no 
one in whom she could confide. On the contrary she repressed all 
thought of her accident and presently she was unable to recall the 
facts even when a serious effort was made to have her do so. This is 
the most striking feature of a phobia, its ostensible lack of ex- 

It has already been explained how recall was ultimately secured 


after thirteen years. It may be added that after the memory had 
been reinstated, the young woman found it possible to approach 
running water without discomfort and gradually the special adjust- 
ments of conduct, which- the phobia had necessitated, disappeared. 

(B) Inferiority Complex. The next illustration, also borrowed 
from Bagby, shows how a sense of personal inferiority developed 
and operated as a motivating factor within the personality of a 
young woman. 

While our primary interest is the psychological development of 
a certain young woman, her mother's personality requires a brief 
preliminary comment. 

The mother had married imprudently, and soon her lack of 
social position became a source of very keen distress to her. The 
humiliation was increased by the fact that her sister's agreeable 
situation offered a sharp contrast to her own. It is, therefore, not 
surprising that, when a daughter was born and while the child 
was still an infant, thb mother began to develop elaborate phan- 
tasies. Her little girl was to grow up to be an utterly charming per- 
son who would marry the most remarkable of men. It was to her 
great disappointment then that she discovered that hef daughter was 
not pretty and not at all clever. She reacted curiously to this threat 
to her hopes. She was infuriated and began a remarkable system 
of persecution. She regularly told her child that she was an ugly 
duckling and she punished her without justification ajnd with great 
severity. Perhaps, we may look upon this exaggerated rage reaction 
as transference from a Blocked emotional response to her husband. 
At any rate, it was under this unnatural regime that nhe daughter's 
personality developed. 

The child became very timid in her relations with all adults, and 
she was not permitted to associate with any of the children of the 
slums in which she lived. Accordingly, she developed ideas of per- 
sonal inferiority but failed to secure adequate defense reactions, 
though she did become seclusive and was over-absorbed in play with 
her dolls. These general tendencies persisted until she reached the 
age of fifteen, at which time she began to improve in personal ap- 
pearance. Her mother's exalted matrimonial hopes were promptly 
revived, and new plans of securing the attractive husband were set 
into operation. 

It proved possible to attract some young eligibles to the house. 


On the first of these occasions the mother ushered the caller into 
the parlor with considerable ceremony and, ostensibly departing, 
actually concealed herself behind the curtains at the door. Later, 
after the young man had departed quite unimpressed, she under- 
took to point out some of the defects of her daughter's technique. 
She said, in part, that the girl was not only unduly formal in man- 
ner but that her conversational efforts were more stupid than could 
be expected of a normal person. 

Several young men called after this but the girl, knowing that 
her mother was behind the curtain, thought of things to say, criti- 
cized them herself, and remained silent. The young men struggled 
through part of the evening and went away never to return. This 
confirmed the girl's lack of confidence in herself and the drive 
of her complex became more intense. 

Fortunately, at this time, the family finances got into such a con- 
dition that the girl had to secure employment. She found a posi- 
tion for which she was fitted by a business course and, with the 
intense drive of her fear, she displayed such energy that she suc- 
ceeded. Psychologically considered, her employment removes her 
from the sources of stimulation to her complex. This is a seclusive- 
ness defense. Secondly, the attitude of her employers and co-workers 
is favorable to her. Finally, she rationalizes in two ways. She says 
that the institution of marriage is slavery for women and that the 
young men and women of the day are utterly trifling and unworthy 
of the attention of a serious and industrious woman. 

(C) Conflict: Fear versus Sense of Duty. In one of the 

cases described by McDougall from his rich medical and psychologi- 
cal experiences during the Great War, a severe mental conflict de- 
veloped between a fear reaction and a sense of religious duty. The 
illustration follows: 

A young man, preparing for the ministry, had been for some 
years a member of the lay brotherhood. He had continued as a lay 
brother because, he felt that he was not yet ready for the graver re- 
sponsibility; a fact which indicates his high degree of conscientious- 
ness. Soon after the outbreak of the war he volunteered for service, 
though he was very far from Europe, and joined the Medical Corps. 
He was soon sent to the front as a stretcher-bearer. There he found 
that the explosion of shells provoked in him uncontrollable fear; 
every time a shell exploded near him, he was moved by an uncon- 


trollable impulse to dash for cover. He was much distressed by his 
liability to fear and his inability to control its impulse; he strug- 
gled hard to get the better of his weakness, hoping that he would be 
more successful as he disciplined himself and that, on repetition of 
these experiences, familiarity would weaken the force of the im- 
pulse. But no improvement came. He had been taught to believe, 
and he did believe, that, if he prayed for strength, strength would 
be given him. And so he prayed earnestly and often for such in- 
crease of strength. It was, or seemed to him, a crucial test of his 
religious beliefs. He was asking for no miraculous intervention in 
the physical order of things; he was praying for strength to enable 
him to do his duty, to succour comrades stricken in what he believed 
to be a noble and righteous cause. He felt that his prayers were 
wholly reasonable, that his motives and his aim were wholly good. 
Surely, God would help him! But there was no answer to his 
prayer; no strength came. Rather he went from bad to worse. He 
felt that his religious belief was crumbling away; and his distress 
was accentuated. He could sleep but little; and he became emaciated 
and increasingly "jumpy" and less able to do his duty; until at last 
a merciful officer sent him to hospital. There he found little relief; 
for, though he no longer suffered the frequent shocks of fear, the 
inner conflict continued. He still desired strongly to do his duty 
as a soldier; but he had no hope of overcoming his shameful fear 
impulse. Thousands of men in similar situations were breaking 
down with all sorts of neurotic disabilities, paralyses and amnesias, 
and so forth. His conflict found no such partial solution and re- 
lief; for his training had accustomed him to search his own heart, 
to understand and frankly examine his motives; therefore the con- 
flict took place in the open, on the plane of full consciousness. He 
had no positive symptoms of functional disorder; he wandered rest- 
lessly about the hospital seeking to make himself useful, his emaci- 
ated face bearing an expression of intense distress; his mind the 
seat of an unceasing conscious conflict. On almost every occasion 
that I came near him, he would draw me aside and beg earnestly to 
be sent back to the front. He was the victim of a conflict of which 
there could be no solution so long as the war continued; there could 
be no peace of mind for him, unless he should be fortunate enough 
to receive a severe or fatal wound. I have no doubt of his entire sin- 
cerity, when he expressed the desire to find death on the battle- 


McDougall comments that the case is unusual In that there is ab- 
sence of repression and neurotic symptoms,, in spite of the severity 
and long continuance of the conflict. Many similar conflicts are 
solved by repression nature's crude way of dealing with conflict 

which results in the development of 'neurotic symptoms. 


A motivational increment is an increase in the speed, strength, 
precision, or other measurable attribute of performance which de- 
pends upon conditions to be defined as motivating. A motivational 
decrement is a decrease in the same variables dependent upon mo- 
tivating conditions. 

To illustrate motivational increments and decrements a few 
typical experiments have been selected. They show the dependence 
of reaction time, muscular strength, score in an intelligence test, 
and rate of learning, upon motivating conditions. A final illustra- 
tion shows that changes in the effectiveness of a given motivation 
occur with the passing of time. 

Incentives and Reaction Time. It is common knowledge in 
psychology that reaction time varies with the preparatory adjust- 
ment of the subject. When a subject is prepared to move as quickly 
as possible the reaction time, on the average, is shorter than when 
he is set to perceive the stimulus-object. 

In an interesting experiment Johanson has shown how the re- 
action time varies with certain motivating conditions. In this study 
the subject rested his finger lightly upon a telegraph key; he was 
instructed to react by pressing the key when the sound was heard. 
The apparatus which was provided for measuring the time between 
stimulus and response was screened from the subject's view. 

There were three experimental conditions designated as normal^ 
incentive ) and punishment. Under normal conditions the subject 
received no information about the speed of his reactions. Under 
incentive conditions the subject worked with knowledge of his re- 
sults; his previous reaction time was told him before the "ready" 
signal. For example, he was told, "Your time was 150 sigma,"* or 
simply "150." Under punishment conditions the subject was given 

* One sigma (<r) = o.ooi second. 


an electric shock for slow reactions. This shock was delivered 
through two small copper plates on the knob of the telegraph key. 
Instructions when punishment was used were as follows: 

This time you will react as before to the sound stimulus. Use the 
same movement in releasing the key, only be sure that in holding 
the key down you have had a finger on each of the two copper 
plates. You will receive an electric shock only when you do not 

Normal series 
Incentive series 
Punishment series 

100 105 110 115 120 125 130 135 140 145 150 155 160 165 170 175 
Time in sigma 


(After Johanson.) 

The curves show how the average speed of reaction can be increased by giving the sub- 
ject definite knowledge of his reaction time, and by using an electric shock as punishment. 

react quickly enough. That is, if you begin to slow down and take 
long to react you will not be able to get away from the key without 
being shocked. A shock means that you are not doing as well as 
you have been doing and that your reaction-time is long. Avoid 
the punishment by speeding up and by maintaining that speed. 

Reactions were taken under each of the three conditions, the 
conditions being rotated from day to day to balance the effects 
of habituation and fatigue. The results, presented graphically in 
Fig. 2, show that the incentive series gave shorter reaction times 
thaii did the normal, and the punishment series the shortest of the 
three. The averages and probable errors were: 










Johanson interprets the result in terms of keenness of "atten- 
tion." This view is indicated by the fact that premature reactions 
were more frequent with the faster reactions in the ratio 1:3:6, re- 
spectively, for normal, incentive, and punishment groups. By "atten- 
tion" he doubtless mans the preparatory adjustment of the subject 
to his task, which varies with the experimental conditions. Johan- 
son's results are interesting in themselves, quite apart from his 
interpretation of them. 

Incentives and Muscular Strength. In a careful investiga- 
tion on recovery from muscular work, Crawley made some impor- 
tant observations upon incentives. Four men were used as subjects. 
The general plan of the investigation included two work periods 
separated by a two- or four-minute interval of rest. The conditions 
of the second work period were constant throughout the experi- 
ment, but those of the first were systematically varied to see what 
effects such variation might have upon the performance during the 
second period. 

The subjects' work was the lifting of weights by the arm and 
leg muscles. In using the arm muscles each subject stood, and a 
padded trough, for steadying the upper arm and preventing side 
movements, was adjusted to suit his height. The forearm was then 
alternately flexed and extended to the beat of a metronome. When 
work was done with the leg muscles the subject seated himself on 
a low chair in front of which was a guarded track with a rubber- 
tired, ball-bearing carriage, similar to a roller-skate, to move in it. 
The foot and ankle were strapped to this carriage, and by means 
of a pulley-rope arrangement an outward thrust lifted the weight 
and an inward movement released it. The weights for arm and leg 
work were varied from series to series. The up-and-down move- 
ments of the lifted weight were recorded on a kymograph drum 
by means of a cord and reducing lever. 


Work was done with the arm movement in the morning and 
with the leg movement in the late afternoon of the same day. The 
arm work took approximately ten minutes, including both work 
periods and the rest interval; the leg work took ten to twenty-five 
minutes. In both cases work was continued to the point of actual 

In certain no-incentive series the kymograph drum was screened 
from view and work was done under the general instruction to carry 
on with the movements until tired out. In incentive series the screen 
was removed and the subject could see the moving lever as it re- 
corded every stroke; he thus worked with complete knowledge of 
his results. In some of the tests further motivation in the form of 
a goal was introduced. The goal was,,a horizontal line drawn on 
the kymograph paper above the marker to indicate the extreme 
limit of the subject's previous performance during the no-incentive 
work. This line spurred the subject to his maximum performance; 
it introduced a form of self-competition which was entered into 
actively and positively. 

During rest periods the subjects walked about the laboratory. 
At the start of the second work period the screen was replaced for 
the incentive series, making the recording invisible. Thus the con- 
ditions for the second work period were identical for the incentive 
and the no-incentive series. 

Crawley's results permit of several instructive comparisons. It 
is an interesting fact that with knowledge of visible results and a 
definite visible goal the subjects almost always exceeded their no- 
incentive record. There is no doubt that self-competition with 
knowledge of results produced greater amounts of work from the 
subjects than were produced in the absence of these motivations. 
Every subject showed some positive gain in the incentive series 
relative to his results in the no-incentive series. 

But the following additional point is important: the greater the 
amount of work done in the first work period the smaller the 
amount done in the second. Extra exertion on the part of the 
subjects during incentive conditions was followed by a noticeable 
letdown in the second work period. In other words, additional in- 
centive during the first work period produced more work while 


the incentive was operative, but there was a subsequent decrement 
and relatively less was produced in the second period. 
Crawley summarizes his findings concisely as follows: 

More work was accomplished when the subject competed with a 
former record, and with the results visible, than when the same 
task was performed without competition and with results screened. 
This is also true even if both work periods are added together and 
considered as a whole. 

The extra exertion by the subject in competition series showed 
itself in diminished output in the second work period, even when 
this later period followed a four-minute rest. The extra work pro- 
duced by incentive called for greater time for recovery. 

This conclusion is important because some persons ingenuously 
assume that incentives increase output of work without additional 
energy expenditure on the part of the organism. When an indus- 
trial worker or a college student is working at the ebb tide of pro- 
duction, incentives can assuredly raise the level without injurious 
after-effects; but when a irikn is already expending much energy at 
his work, special incentives may inflict a penalty. Incentives are 
not magical devices for creating energy; they are rather a means of 
releasing energy, thus changing the activity level. 

These findings, too, bear directly upon the contention of labor 
unions, previously referred to (p. 9), that added incentives, as in 
the "piece work" or the bonus system, may injure the health of 
the worker. For any given kind of work there is an optimum level 
of motivation, so far as permanent efficiency of production is con- 

Effect of Praise and Reproof upon Intelligence-Test 
Scores. The existence of motivational factors in mental-test per- 
formance has been generally recognized. Terman, for example, 
stressed the importance of keeping a child encouraged during a test: 

Nothing contributes more to a satisfactory rapport than praise 
of the child's efforts. Under no circumstances should the examiner 
permit himself to show displeasure at a response, however absurd it 
may be. In general, the poorer the response, the better satisfied one 
should appear to be with it. An error is always to be passed by 
without comment, unless it is painfully evident to the child him- 
self, in which case the examiner will do well to make some excuse 


for it; e.g., "You are not quite old enough to answer questions like 
that one; but, never mind, you are doing beautifully," etc. Ex- 
clamations like "fine!" "splendid!" etc., should be used lavishly. 
Almost any innocent deception is permissible which keeps the child 
interested, confident, and at his best level of effort. The examina- 
tion should begin with tests that are fairly easy, in order to give the 
child a little experience with success before the more difficult tests 
are reached. 

Further, psychologists have expressed the opinion that teachers 
should not give mental tests to their own pupils, nor parents to 
their own children, because of a natural desire to show how bril- 
liant the children are in whom they have a deep personal interest, 
and consequent inability to hold to the rigidly prescribed conditions 
of the tests. 

The effect of praise and reproof upon test scores has been studied 
by Hurlock, using the National Group Intelligence Test. Two forms 
of the test were given to eighth and fifth grade children (average 
ages 13.9 and n.6 years, respectively). 

All the children of a grade were together at the first testing. On 
the basis of the intelligence quotient scores three equivalent groups 
were selected, and a second form of the same test was given one 
week later. A control group took the test as before under standard- 
ized test conditions. A praised group was strongly encouraged be- 
fore taking the retest; they were told that they had been selected 
from the whole group because of excellent work the week before, 
and were urged to do even better and to set a class record. A re- 
proved group was discouraged by telling them that they had 
failed in the test, that they were a disgrace to the class, and so on. 

Results of the study show that both praise and reproof raised 
the average intelligence quotient scores seven points, whereas less 
than one point of increase resulted from practice alone in the control 
group. The differences between (a) the praised and the control 
groups, and (b) the reproved and the control groups, are statistically 
significant, while the retest gain of the control group is little more 
than a chance variation. A calculation of the percentage of children 
gaining, remaining the same, and losing, on the retest scores, gives 
us the following figures: 






% gaining 




% same 




% losing 




The experiment leaves no doubt that praise and reproof influence the 
scores on intelligence tests. 

Practically, these results argue for rigid adherence to standardized 
conditions in giving intelligence tests. Chance remarks of approval 
or disapproval from the examiner might readily change the child's 
test score. 

Comparison of Motivating Conditions in Animal Learning. 
There is a vast amount of experimental evidence for the view 
that the rate of human and animal learning is profoundly affected 
by motivating conditions. A single illustration from the work upon 
maze learning of the white rat is presented here. Ligon worked with 
three kinds of incentives: (i) food in relief of hunger, i.e., an in- 
centive appealing to an inner physiological condition; (2) the pres- 
ence of another rat, *>., a social incentive; (3) a constantly sounding 
electric buzzer in the goal-box, i.e., an environmental non-social 
stimulation. All three kinds of incentives were effective in motivat- 
ing learning, but they produced learning at markedly different rates 
of speed. Incidentally, the social motivation, with the white rat, was 
the least effective of the incentives used in the experiment. 

These types of motivation were varied and combined in different 
ways. Three distinctive curves of learning have been selected from 
Ligon's graphs and plotted in Fig. 3. The upper curve was made 
by rats running the maze immediately after feeding, to an empty 
cage. The curve shows little learning and much variation from 
trial to trial, but it does show a small amount of learning. Escape 
from the maze was probably the goal which motivated this learn- 
ing. The intermediate curve shows learning with social motivation. 
In the goal-box was another rat with whom the subject was allowed 
to remain for half an hour after running the maze successfully; 
the curve shown is an average of curves with varying degrees of 
hunger. The lowest curve obtained was made with an electric buzzer 


in the goal-box combined with food reward; the runs were made 
six and twelve hours after feeding. All curves give the combined 
results for a group of rats. After examining these graphs no further 
argument is needed to demonstrate the importance of motivating 
factors in learning. 

Change in Effectiveness of a Motive. As we have just 
seen, Ligon found that a constantly sounding electric buzzer in the 

3000 T 


250 - 


5 10 15 20 



CONDITIONS. (After LJgon,} 

Ordinates give time in seconds plotted logarithmically; abscissae give successive trials. 
(A) Learning curve for rats running after feeding to an empty cage. (B) Learning curve 
with social motivation, rats running to cage containing another rat. (C) Learning curve 
for hungry rats running to food and to a constantly sounding buzzer, both incentives in 
the goal-box. 

goal-box of a maze motivated the rat so that learning was speeded 
up. Just why the rat learned better with this acoustic stimulation 
than without it is itself an interesting problem. Ligon explains the 
result by reference to "curiosity" or a possible "disagreeable" effect. 
Perhaps the analogy of a crowtj gathering around the bass drum 
is worth mentioning in this connection. More specifically, it may be 
that the sound orients the rat towards the source and this orienta- 
tion directs his progressive movements through the maze. Explora- 
tory behavior or general activity would certainly bring the rat 


ultimately to the goal if an auditory orientation towards it were 
more or less constantly maintained. But regardless of explanation, 
the fact is clear that a continuously sounding buzzer induced maze 
learning in the rat. 

Figure 4 presents the curves of learning under three conditions. 
The solid line presents the graphs of learning with a food incentive. 
The dot-dash line is the learning curve with the electric buzzer 

Food Reward 

5 10 15 20 


Qrdinates give time in seconds plotted logarithmically; abscissae give successive trials. 
The curves compare rates of learning under three motivating conditions. 

sounding in an empty goal-box. The dash line is the curve obtained 
with food and buzzer motivation combined. This combination of 
incentives gives the quickest learning of all and the most constant 
performance after learning. 

The point of especial interest in the present context is that with 
continued trials the maze performance with auditory motivation 
becomes increasingly poor. The curve of learning with the buzzer 
for incentive rises somewhat, indicating a gradual and steady loss 
in the effectiveness of this kind of motivation. Also the other two 
curves approach each other, which is to be expected on the assump- 
tion that the buzzer is losing effectiveness. In human psychology 


this loss of effectiveness would be called "loss of interest" in the 

In general, the effectiveness of a given motivation varies with 
time. Some motives lose effectiveness quickly; others scarcely at 
all. Some are cyclic; they wax and wane, varying with bodily con- 
ditions. Others are persistent and vary in intensity with the inciting 
conditions of the environment. 

The Quality of Highly Motivated Work* There is gen- 
eral agreement that moderately increased motivation raises the speed 
of activity and produces greater muscular strength; but statements 
in studies by Whittemore, Allport, Hurlock, and others indicate that 
the quality of work may be adversely affected at the same time 
(pp. 398, 404, 408). Psychologists are familiar with the well-known 
inverse relationship between speed and accuracy, especially in per- 
formances involving motor coordination and control. It is not sur- 
prising to learn, therefore, that an increase of speed, due to added 
motivation, may be accompanied by a decrease in the precision or 
accuracy of performance. 

It is important to note, however, that a decrease in the accuracy 
or quality of the work is by no means the inevitable result of added 
motivation. Through instruction to the subject, with emphasis upon 
accuracy or qualitative excellence, the motivational increment can 
be made one of accuracy and quality, i.e., a qualitative increment. 

More than thirty years ago Mayer showed this to be the case by 
an experiment in which he used three sets of instructions. The first 
called for both speed and quality, the second stressed quality alone, 
and the third speed alone. The work was done in a public school 
of Wiirzburg, Germany. Fourteen boys in the fifth year served as 
subjects, and an equal number of boys as a control group. 

The experiment was carried out under two main conditions, viz.i 
working alone, and working in a group. The three sets of instruc- 
tions above mentioned were employed under both conditions. The 
experimental tasks were: copying from dictation, carrying out men- 
tal and written arithmetic, completion of sentences, and learning 
nonsense syllables. 

From the corrected papers a score was worked out for each kind 
of exercise. These scores were found to vary both with the instruc- 
tion and with the social situation under which the boys worked. 


Among Mayer's conclusions was the observation that when both 
speed and quality were stressed, or quality alone, the work in a 
group situation resulted in fewer errors than did that in a solitary 

This finding is especially interesting in the light of Allport's con- 
clusion that argumentative or discursive reasoning gives results of 
a better quality when the work is carried out alone than when it 
is done in a group. These opposite results obtained in the two 
studies on the effect of a group situation may be explained in part 
by the fact that the reasoning called for in Allport's experiment 
requires much more complex psychological processes than those 
involved in Mayer's simple tasks. A more important factor influenc- 
ing the results is that of instruction; Mayer's subjects were specif- 
ically instructed to emphasize quality, whereas Allport's were not. 

Apparently the attitude of the individual towards his task is a 
vital factor. If this is directed towards accuracy and quality of work, 
a bettering of these characteristics is likely to result. If accuracy and 
quality are not specifically emphasized, they may be lowered under 
conditions of motivational reinforcement which make for greater 

The present discussion calls for a brief consideration of the mean- 
ing of quality. .Artists commonly claim that qualitative differences 
cannot be measured. For example, the difference between the per- 
formance of a Heifetz and that of an amateur cannot (it is said) be 
reduced to figures. Opposed to the artist's position is the scientific 
one which holds that whatever is discriminable can conceivably 
be described quantitatively. Lack of measurement is only a tempo- 
rary failing in a developing science. 

Without entering further into this friendly discussion between 
the artist and the man of science, we note that all human activities 
differ in two respects: "kind and degree. A change of motivation 
may shift either the \ind or the degree of behavior, or both. 


When two or more incentives operate simultaneously the effect 
is generally more pronounced than when only one of them is pres- 
ent. After a careful review of the experimental literature, Diserens 


and Vaughn stated the principle of summation in 'these words: "The 
effectiveness of a given motive in any situation varies directly with 
the number of cooperating motives or facilitating factors, and in- 
versely with the number of competing motives or inhibiting fac- 
tors!' The form of this statement should be modified somewhat, for 
It is not a given motive whose effectiveness varies, but rather the 
total configuration. Again, the principle Is valid only within limits. 
If the degree of motivation be Increased beyond a certain critical 
point, the result is typically a disruption of behavior. 

In the -three experiments described below, incentives were com- 
bined to produce motivational increments in performance. 

Effect of Combined Incentives on the Performance of 
School Children- Chapman and Feder experimented with a 
group of thirty-six boys and girls in the fifth grade of a Cleveland 
school. The tasks employed were: simple addition (Thorndike's 
test); cancellation (Woodworth aad Wells); substitution of sym- 
bols for numbers. At the start of the experiment the ability of the 
children in carrying out these tasks was determined and two equiva- 
lent groups were formed. 

Chapman and Feder refer to these groups as motivated and non- 
motivated. It is clear from their account of the experiment, how- 
ever, that both groups were motivated by the same pattern of factors 
which underlies all serious school work; both had the same dis- 
ciplinary background which regulated their activity; to both, the 
tasks were novel and interesting. The groups differed in their treat- 
ment in that the motivated group received additional incentives, as 

1. The results of the previous day's work for all subjects in the 
group were published; everyone knew them. 

2. On the sheet presented to each child for a day's work, the 
score which indicated his achievement at the last period was marked 
In heavy blue pencil. 

3. The curve of improvement for the group as a whole was pre- 
sented graphically from day to day. 

4. Credits in the form of stars were given regularly, (a) to those 
who were in the upper 50 per cent as regards the work accom- 
plished on the previous day, and () to those who were in the 
upper 50 per cent as regards gross improvement. It was understood 





Non - Motivated 

SCHOOL CHILDREN. (After Chapman 

and Feder.} 

The curves show scores in tests of 
addition, substitution and cancellation 
made by groups o school children 
under different motivating conditions. 
The broken line in every case gives 
scores for the group with control 
motivation; the solid line those for the 
group with additional incentive. 







Non - Motivated 

123456789 10 


that prizes of nominal value would be awarded to the 50 per cent 
who at the end of ten practice periods had gained the greatest num- 
ber of stars for efficiency and improvement. 

This combination of additional incentives is complex, involving 
knowledge of results, reward in the form of prizes, social recogni- 
tion for success, and much keener competition with one's own 
record and with classmates than occurs under normal class-room 

Graphs which show the effect of practice upon the three tasks 
under the different motivations are reproduced in Fig. 5. These 
curves show clearly the effect of both motivations upon learning, 
The groups differ most markedly in the addition test, which is the 
one requiring the most time, i.e., ten minutes. The curves of the 
substitution scores also show a considerable difference between the 
two motivational groups. This test required five minutes per day. 
The curves for the cancellation test show the two groups to be about 
equal at first, but during the last three days of the experiment the 
more highly motivated group has the advantage. This task took 
only one minute per day. It is probable that, with a longer work 
period and with the novelty of the cancellation task worn off, the 
more highly motivated group would show a still greater advantage 
over the control. All three curves indicate that the difference be- 
tween the performance-levels of the two groups increases as prac- 
tice continues, to the increasing advantage of the one having addi- 
tional incentives. 

Success and Failure Combined with Praise and Reproof, 
Reward and Punishment. Experiments upon human motiva- 
tion, as we have seen, have contrasted the relative effectiveness of 
praise and reproof, reward and punishment, purpose and absence 
of purpose, knowledge of results and ignorance of results, success 
and failure, "will to learn/' and the lack of a "will to learn,'* pres- 
ence and absence of rivalry, working in a group and working alone, 
and so on. In a motivation experiment performed by Chase upon 
young children several of these motivations were employed in com- 
bination. Success and failure were controlled, and were combined 
with praise and reproof and with reward and punishment. 

To control success and failure an ingenious motivation-dynamom- 
eter was contrived. The child was instructed to squeeze two bars 



together with maximum grip. The squeeze forced red liquid up a 
visible glass tube and a one-way valve held it at the maximum 
height attained during a series of several trials. When the liquid 
reached a certain level at the top of the tube a bell rang to indicate 
success. By readjusting the hydraulic system the experimenter con- 
trived to control "success" and "failure" without the subject's 
knowledge. It took a little practice^ of course, to manipulate the 
apparatus so as to eliminate the suspicion of trickery. The apparatus 
provided a means of measuring the child's actual strength of grip 
quite apart from his apparent "success" or "failure." Further details 
are given in the description of Plate I. 

Another visible sign of "success" which proved to be of especial 
interest to the younger children was used in the final series. Instead 
of a column of water a fan-shaped board was placed vertically in 
front of the child. Pivoted to the board was a movable arm the 
outer extremity of which carried a toy cardboard train. On this 
board a railway track was painted and two small stations attached 
to it. When the child pressed the handles the train moved along 
the track toward the terminal station. "Success" in this case was 
indicated by movement of the train to the station. Actually the 
squeeze of the subject on the handles raised a column of water, 
exactly as in other series, and the maximum height of the liquid 
was secretly recorded as a measure of the strength of grip. But 


The lower picture shows the lever system operated by the child's hand. A movable bar, 
pivoted at H' to a baseboard, presses against a rubber bulb filled with liquid, while a stop 
(G~) limits outward movement of the bar. A stationary bar is adjustable along a slot (H), 
and can be clamped firmly at the point which best accommodates the child's hand. In taking 
a test the child grasps the rounded handles L'L and G'G. 

In the upper picture the lever system is shown at the left of the table. A vertical board 
supports two glass tubes, the front one visible to the child and the rear one visible only to 
the experimenter. When the child squeezes the handles together red water is forced up 
one of these glass tubes. A one-way valve maintains it stationary at the highest point. 
By adjusting appropriate stopcocks the hydraulic system can be arranged so that -the height 
of the column of water in the rear tube, visible only to the experimenter, gives a true 
measure of the muscular strength of the child. At the same time an auxiliary bulb (A r ) 
makes it possible for the experimenter to control the water level in the tube which is clearly 
visible to the child. This auxiliary bulb, concealed from the child's view, is used to regulate 
"success" and "failure." If the subject "succeeds" in raising the column of water to a cer- 
tain level at the top of the tube, an electric bell rings; if he "fails," the bell does not ring. 
This bell is controlled by a push button (M) operated by the experimenter's foot. (Photo- 
graphs reproduced through the courtesy of Professors G, D. Stoddard and C. A. 



through a trick, "success" and "failure" were artificially controlled 
without the child's knowledge. 

There were 211 subjects ranging in age from two to eight years. 
The subjects worked individually, every child making seven 
squeezes per period. On the first day all children took the test 
under equivalent conditions. The experimenter was matter-of-fact, 
avoiding praise, reproof, and all but neutral comments; the task 
was presented as a test of grip in which a given pressure upon the 
bars produced a visible result. This initial testing gave a measure 
of grip under neutral conditions which served as a control for the 
later work. On the basis of the initial results four equivalent groups 
were formed. 

These groups were differently motivated on the second and third 
experimental periods as indicated below: 


Experimental Series 




















Conditions were arranged so that in the second test, one week after 
the first, groups B, C, and D would succeed; and in the third, an- 
other week later, the same groups would fail. 

Praise and reproof were given by a series of standardized com- 
ments, a different one for each trial of a child. For example, "Splen- 
did, ! You certainly must be a big, strong to make the 


Dell ring." Or, "Why, , I thought that you were a big, strong 

5 but I guess you're not. You didn't make the bell ring, did 

^ou?" Throughout the seven trials of an experimental period, the 
:hild met with consistent praise, or reproof, or reward, or punish- 
nent, or neutral conditions. 

For reward a large gold star was placed after the child's name 
*ach time he made the bell ring. For punishment the general princi- 
ple was to take away something the child had been given and 
wanted to possess. He was given the paper form of a boy with 
seven red buttons in a vertical row down one side of the jacket, 
and told that every time he made the bell ring the experimenter 
ivould add a button, but if he failed, a button would be cut off. 
Alter each failure the experimenter cut off a button. 

Results indicate distinct differences among the groups. The "suc- 
cess" (II, B, C, D) and "failure" (III, B, C, D) groups are both 
superior in the average strength of grip to the control groups. This 
doubtless means that there is a motivational gain in having a visible 
goal even though the child consistently fails to reach it. The average 
score for the "failure" groups is higher than that of the "success" 
groups. It appears to the writer, however, that one cannot on the 
basis of this work make the general conclusion that failure is more 
highly motivating than success, for the following reasons. In the 
first place, the children in the "failure" group had all belonged to 
the previous "success" group, and their former success may in part 
have modified the initial mental set towards the task. Secondly, 
"success" and "failure" were not repeated long enough to guaran- 
tee the permanence and stability of the obtained difference. Again, 
the results are not strictly comparable, owing to the fact that the 
moving-train apparatus was substituted for the visible column of 
red water in the "failure" series; this introduced an element of 
novelty which would tend to enhance the "failure" motivation. 

In the second experimental series the groups arranged themselves 
in the following rank order: 

1. Success reward. 

2. Success praise. 

3. Success repetition. 

4. Control motivation. 


The difference in average scores between the first and second groups 
and between the second and third is not statistically significant; that 
between the first and third groups approaches significance; and all 
other difterences are significant. 
In the third series the groups arranged themselves as follows: 

1. Failure reproof. 

2. Failure punishment. 

3. Failure repetition. 

4. Control motivation. 

The diff erence in average scores between the first and second groups 
is not statistically significant; that between the second and third 
and between the first and third groups approaches significance; 
all other differences are significant. 

The above sequences indicate that success plus reward or success 
plus praise furnishes more effective motivation thari success with 
mere repetition of the task. Similarly, failure plus reproof or failure 
plus punishment is more highly motivating than failure with repe- 
tition of the task alone. In. other words, the additional incentives of 
reward, punishment, praise, reproof, yielded motivational incre- 
ments over and above those referable to success and failure. 

It is of interest to note that the younger children increased their 
scores in the second and third experimental series relatively more 
than did the older ones. This fact indicates that the experimental 
study of motivation can be carried on very profitably with young 
children. Naive and uninhibited, they make excellent subjects for 
motivational experiments. 

Throughout Chase's experiment an assistant kept a record of the 
kinds of behavior exhibited by the children. An analysis of the record 
sheets Indicated that there was an output of energy through other 
channels than those controlling the dynamometer; muscles of the 
face, neck, and other bodily parts contracted during the squeezing 
of the instrument. This effect was especially pronounced in those 
series yielding motivational increments, and the higher the degree 
of motivation the more widespread was the muscular involvement. 
The children said they preferred the game with some motivation 
to that with control motivation. 



Candy Reward Combined Incentives. Every- 

one knows that offering candy as a reward is an adequate means 
of motivating children. Leuba made use of this fact In an experi- 
ment upon fifth-grade school children. In this study nineteen boys 
and sixteen girls were given ten-minute exercises In multiplication, 
three days a week for a period of seven weeks. At the start of the 
experiment the children were told that for a while there would 
be multiplication practice in an adjoining class room; the motiva- 
tion for this preliminary and control work was presumably the 
same as that for other school exercises. 

Beginning on the eighth day of the experiment, however,, it was 
announced before each trial that a five-cent box of chocolate bars 
would be given to those who did a certain number of problems 
within the time allowed. The number of problems required to win 
the prize was marked upon the sheet of each child. This number 
was so chosen with respect to the ability of the child that on any 
given day approximately equal numbers of slow, medium, and fast 
multipliers would obtain a reward. For a few days the amount of 
work required to win a reward was gradually increased (Increasing 
requirement). Then, after an interval with control motivation, the 
quantity of work was decreased (decreasing requirement). 

Following this there were two days of control motivation; then 
rivalry was developed by the experimenter. On the last day a com- 
bination of many incentives was employed, including rivalry, praise, 
a definite goal, candy reward, in addition to the motivation normally 
furnished by the class-room situation. 

In scoring the papers, speed rather than accuracy was used as an 
Index of the extent to which the children had exerted themselves. 
The mean number of problems done in each of the ten-minute prac- 
tice periods is shown in the following table of results.* 

Examination of these figures reveals a marked augmentation of 
the number of problems solved on days when chocolate candy was 
offered as a reward. Leuba states that the candy reward brought an 
increase of 52 per cent above the control level. In the final complex 
situation with many incentives there was a gain of 62 per cent over 
the control level It is Important to note that when the reward was 

* Leuba's table, from which these figures are taken, also presents the standard deviations 
and probable errors. 




Average Score 













Z 3"5 


Z 3 .Z 





Chocolate candy (increasing 





3 z.z 


3 z. 4 










Chocolate candy (decreasing requirement) 















Many incentives 

removed on trials 12 and 13 and again on trials 18 and 19 the level 
of accomplishment fell immediately to that of the first control 
trials. This proves beyond doubt that the increments are truly moti- 
vational in origin. 

The experiment also demonstrates that social incentives (rivalry, 
praise) can be added to biological (candy) with a greater release 
of energy than that produced by either kind of incentive alone. This 
result is to be expected in view of the fact that the distinction be- 
tween social and biological motivating factors is an arbitrary one. 



Having surveyed a fair sample o the concrete materials which 
demonstrate the presence of motivation, we are in an excellent posi- 
tion to consider critically the definition and scope of motivational 
psychology. The following sections are concerned with a formula- 
tion of the problem. 

The Attitudinal Approach. It is literally true that an in- 
dividual in good part creates his world. Mental organization and the 
set of an observer make things appear as they do. Assume for ex- 
ample, that the circles in Fig. 6 are arranged in groups of four 

o o o o o o 
o o o o o o 
o o o o o o 
o o o o o o 
o o o o o o 
o o o o o o 


with spaces between them, and look fixedly at the circles from the 
standpoint of this assumption; the circles appear to be grouped by 
fours/Now assume that they are grouped by nines; they are in 
groups of nine. Again assume a grouping by sixes first in a horizon- 
tal and then in a vertical arrangement; the various groupings appear. 
A wide variety of patterns can be observed merely by assuming 
them to exist and persistently looking at the figure with a particular 
set. Practice makes the observation more striking and more facile. 
It is just the same in principle with the various facts of obscrva- 

3 6 


T U 

tion which constitute the ultimate data of the sciences. The datum, 
always observed by someone at a particular time and place, may 
be a point of light in a telescopic field, a discriminable difference 
in spatial position or in color quality, or a sense of solidity when 
an object is held in the hand. Regardless of its nature as sensory 
process, the assumption of the observer gives the observation its 
meaning and to some extent its apparent structure. 

Scientific development is a continuous adjustment of attitude to 
the facts of observation. This leads in turn to the discovery of new 

facts and to new understandings in the 
field being investigated. Scientific devel- 
opment implies a constant interaction of 
observing and reflecting. The products of 
observation are the data of science, and 
the products of reflection are the attitudes 
of the men of science which are expressed 
by their logical constructions. Generaliza- 
tions, hypotheses, theories are built out of 
facts. These constructions in turn lead to 
critical experiments and new observations. 
The relationship between scientific logic 
and datum is circular, represented sym- 
bolically in Fig. 7. 

This emphasis upon the attitude of the individual is highly im- 
portant in defining the scope of motivational psychology. We will 
designate it as the attitudinal approach. Its importance lies in the 
fact that an attitude regulates and directs the pattern of experience 
and behavior. 

Physical and Mental Attitudes towards the Study of 
Motivation. It is a curious circumstance that the everyday ques- 
tion "Why?" calls for an explanation of physical movement in 
terms of conscious purpose or reason. A verbal statement of con- 
scious purpose (which is mental) commonly passes as an adequate 
explanation of bodily movement (which is physical). This apparent 
contradiction vanishes when we realize that there are both physical 
and psychological approaches to the study of human conduct. 

From the physical standpoint all behavior consists of changes in 
the tissues. Every muscle twitch, every nerve impulse, every glandu- 

< G \ c 




lar secretion, every chemical change in the body is determined by 
present and preceding conditions. A complete physical explanation 
of behavior would involve a description of the stimulus-response 
relationships included in the physiology of excitation; it would take 
into account the entire process of learning, the way adjustments are 
made, and the physiology of the thought processes. This complete 
explanation would tell the story of objective psychology, combined 
with parts of neurology, physics, and chemistry. 

When, by contrast, behavior is viewed psychologically from the 
standpoint of the conscious individual^ it is the meaning or signifi- 
cance of an activity which is of paramount importance. The "mus- 
cle-twitch" view of behavior vanishes, and the conscious experiences 
of an individual plans, purposes, wishes, attitudes, interests, and 
the like come to the foreground of the picture. The individual 
lives in a social world, seeking recognition and prestige. He is 
spurred onward by the praise and reproof of his companions, by 
prizes, threats, and punishments. He makes resolutions, consciously 
formulates purposes, cherishes grudges, retains phobias. 

In explaining the persistence of motives, the psychologist assumes 
a relatively permanent and stable mind. A purpose may be said 
to persist in the mind until carried out in meaningful conduct. 

There is no real incompatibility between physical and mental 
views of motivation. The real mechanism of behavior can be re- 
garded either as a brain or a mind, as both, or neither, depending 
upon one's viewpoint. The writer assumes that there is only one 
kind of motivating structure within the organism and that this 
structure is fully adequate to explain all the pertinent facts of psy- 

We aim to formulate the principles of motivation so that they 
will be valid regardless of point of view. This is an ideal rather than 
an accomplished fact. When a contradiction between a physical 
and a mental formulation appears, that means that something still 
needs to be worked out. The assumption of a single motivating 
structure as the basis of all activity removes the difficulties latent 
in the dualistic opposition of a real mind and a real brain. 

The Purposive Definition of Motivation. Some of the 
leading textbooks of applied psychology have classified incentives 
and motives together as a special class of conditions which facilitate 


or Inhibit behavior. One of these books tabulates four classes of 
facilitating or inhibiting factors. With slight modifications, this list 

1. Physical environmental factors temperature, humidity, alti- 
tude, ventilation, illumination, distraction, and related conditions. 

2. General organic states fatigue, sleepiness, hunger, state of 
health, mood, comfort or discomfort, and the like. 

3. Specific conditions induced by chemicals such drugs as alco- 
hol, tobacco, caffeine, morphine. To this group should be added 
the glandular hormones and other chemical agents produced by 

glands and bodily tissues which, when 
present in the blood, change the threshold 
of reaction to certain stimuli. 

4. Incentives and motives praise, re- 
proof, rivalry, reward, punishment, 
knowledge of results, and so on; also 
various goals such as escape from con- 
finement, prestige, a prize, money. In 
contrast to the first of the four groups of 
factors, these are derived mainly from 
the social environment. 

From the standpoint of such a classifi- 
cation the term "motivation" designates 
one group of factors which facilitate or 
inhibit behavior. The relation of motivat- 
ing factors to the entire group of facilitat- 
ing or inhibiting conditions may be rep- 
resented by two concentric circles, Fig. 8. The outer designates the 
total group of facilitating or inhibiting conditions; and the inner, 
the more limited range of those conditions which have been called 
"motivating." The distinction makes it imperative to discover the 
criterion by which motivating factors have been recognized as such 
and distinguished from the others. 

A careful analysis of the above list will convince the reader that 
the distinguishing characteristic of group four lies in the purposive- 
ness of the behavior which is presupposed. Concerning the defini- 
tion of motivation in terms of purposive behavior, a few comments 
are necessary. 

This figure implies a limita- 
tion of the field o motivational 
psychology to a study of the 
spurs and checks of purposive 
behavior, and to such behavior 



In the first place, it is clear that every goal-directed activity de- 
velops upon a stage in the background of which are many factors 
that support the action, that spur or check the goal-oriented be- 
havior. Some of these are social, as the presence of a group of on- 
lookers or a rival, praise or reproof. Others are physical and external 
as temperature, relative humidity, illumination, distraction, and so 
on. Organic factors such as fatigue, discomfort, hypothyroidism, a 
full stomach, etc., also facilitate or inhibit purposive behavior. 

To define the problem of motivation as above, solely in terms 
of purposive activity, is too narrow. The animal develops purposive 
behavior out of random and aimless activity. Consider, for exam- 
ple, a rat deprived of food for twenty-four hours, and placed in 
the maze. He is active, moves hither and thither obviously in a 
random manner. If food is repeatedly found at the same place in 
the maze, the animal learns to run from the entrance-box to the 
spot where the food is located. This process of learning is one in 
which purposive behavior develops out of seemingly random or 
purposeless activity. Any limitation of the motivational problem to 
purposive behavior is necessarily cramping when purposeless ac- 
tivity has to be considered, and when one is especially concerned 
with the growth or development of purposes. 

One further difficulty with the definition of motivational psy- 
chology solely in terms of purpose lies in the circumstance that one 
cannot always know what purpose is being shown by the animal's 
behavior. The difficulty may be illustrated by reference to an ex- 
periment of Wever upon the rate of swimming in relation to water 
temperature (pp. 61-63). Wever found that, when the water was cold, 
rats swam more quickly than when the water was approximately 
at body temperature. Does it follow from this result that the purpose 
of escaping from the water varies with the temperature? If so, at 
what temperature does the purpose to escape disappear? When the 
water is at body temperature the animals swim most slowly. Re- 
gardless of interpretation, results give in a continuous curve the rela- 
tion between water temperature and rate of swimming. Fortunately 
this quantitative relationship between temperature and activity level 
does not depend upon the answer given to the above questions. 
The rat's comfort or discomfort, his desire to escape, his conscious 
purpose, are all experimentally unknown. 


A broader formulation of the problem of motivation than that 
in terms of purpose is obviously needed. To this end the present 
book takes the stand that the central problem in the study of moti- 
vation is to account for the determination of behavior in all its as- 
pects to answer scientifically the question "Why?" The student of 
motivation seeks to understand and to explain how behavior is 
caused and how it is regulated. 

The Question a Why? ?5 Woodworth writes: "What you are 
doing in toto determines what you do piecemeal. If anyone asks you 
why you are doing this (detail), your answer is, 'Because I am do- 
ing that (total act).' 'Why are you turning the knob?' 'Because I 
am opening the door.' 'Why are you opening the door?' 'Because 
I'm going to the garage.' 'Why are you going to the garage?' 'Be- 
cause I'm taking some people to the station.' 'And why do that?' 
'I'm helping them get to their business on time.' Each smaller act 
finds its motive in the more inclusive activity in progress." 

If this sort of questioning be carried to the limit, one arrives sooner 
or later at some basic motivation which is not to be questioned, 
such as the need for food, security, mate, comfort, bestowing 
parental care, prestige. If anyone should ask why you avoid a pain- 
ful weapon, why you eat when hungry, why you desire the approval 
of others, why you fall asleep when tired, you would probably 
regard the questions as foolish. Life, you say, is made up of such 
things, and of course no explanation is needed. William James once 
wrote that only a philosopher or a fool would question the why 
of basic instinctive acts! 

If Woodworth is right in his view that an activity in progress 
motivates subordinate ones, the implication is clear that certain 
basic activities go along on their own momentum, that they are 
self-motivating, and also furnish drive to the subordinate, partial 
activities. Woodworth puts it in this way: "A motive, we remem- 
ber, is an activity in progress, and any complex activity, once the 
individual is fully embarked upon it, furnishes its own motivation." 

Woodworth's view that one activity motivates another activity 
runs counter to common usage. We think of a motive not as an 
activity in progress, but rather as something which determines an 
activity. A purpose or a desire, we say, motivates the overt behavior 
which is in progress. It answers the question "Why?" 


The Nature of Explanation In Scientific Psychology. 
From the dawn of human thought to the present, philosophers have 
sought some general principle or force which explains all human 
behavior. Recent examples are Bergson's elan vital, McDougall's 
hormic force, Freud's libido, Schopenhauer's will, Driesch's en- 
telechy. All such postulations offer an answer to the question 

Primitive religious and animistic doctrines explain human be- 
havior in terms of spirits. The behavior of mentally diseased indi- 
viduals has been thus explained by assuming that an evil spirit 
took possession of the body; and cure was effected by casting out 
the devil. Traces of this doctrine can be found today. 

Scientific explanation may be defined as a fairly complete de- 
scription of some object, event, or relation, in which the facts to 
be explained are brought into relation with other facts, and in 
which functional relationships and correlations are discovered. In 
order that there may be no doubt as to the meaning of scientific 
explanation in psychology, three closely related kinds of explana- 
tion are noted below: 

The first type is in terms of conditions, and may be called con- 
ditional. The behavior of an organism varies with objective condi- 
tions in its own tissues and in its environment. When one asks about 
the cause of a given segment of behavior the answer may be con- 
cerned with the factors in one or both of these spheres. For example, 
when I explain water-seeking behavior by reference to lack of water 
in the environment or in terms of persistent stimulation from the 
dehydrated mucosa of throat and mouth, I am explaining by refer- 
ence to conditions. 

A second type of explanation is genetic. It explains present be- 
havior by reference to the past reactions or to the past experiences 
of an individual or species. It is the historical type of explanation, 
which points out how behavior develops. For example, when I 
explain that a thirsty animal has learned where water can be found 
and has gradually developed water-seeking habits, I am explaining 
genetically. - 

A third type of explanation is the hypothetical. In physics and 
chemistry the molecule, atom, electron, are all assumed to exist for 
the purpose of explaining observed phenomena. In psychology, 


neural organization, mental set, associatiye bonds, are assumed in 
order to explain. If, for example, I assume the existence of a neural 
adjustment which determines water-seeking behavior, I am explain- 
ing by making an hypothesis. 

These three types of explanation are all closely interrelated. The 
genetic type of explanation may be regarded as an extension into 
past time of the conditional account, so as to trace out temporal re- 
lations. Similarly, hypothetical explanation is an extension of the 
other types beyond the observed world into an assumed order of ex- 
istence. An hypothesis is made and then tested. When we say that 
behavior is explained in terms of its conditions, we mean all condi- 
tions present, past, imagined. 

The Relation of Motivational to Explanatory Psychology. 
Inasmuch as motivational psychology is concerned with explanation, 
with answering the question "Why?" it might seem advisable to 
identify the main problem of motivation with the general task of 
explanation. On this basis, motivational psychology is identical with 
explanatory psychology, or with the explanatory aspect of the total 
science. The explanation of all psychological processes, however, is 
an undertaking as broad as psychology itself. 

Present-day psychologists have not envisaged the problem of 
motivation in any such comprehensive manner. Every fact of ob- 
servation within psychology calls for explanation. In the field of 
perception, the numerous observations relating to visual depth, 
sound localization, illusion, and configuration demand an explana- 
tion. In the field of learning, the laws of conditioning call for ade- 
quate theoretical interpretation. In the study of dreams, hallucina- 
tions, after-images, and the thought processes, there is a constant 
need for elucidation in terms of determining mechanisms. 

It is true that one and the same brain regulates both the per- 
ceptual configurations and the patterns of behavior. But despite 
this, psychologists have not yet seen fit to identify the study of 
motivation outright with the explanatory aspect of psychology as a 

If we take the experimental literature as our guide, we discover 
that motivational psychology has been primarily concerned with 
certain aspects of behavior (drive, purpose, liking and disliking, 
causation of learning, etc.) rather than with the interpretation of 



conscious experiences. If we are to judge on the basis of contem- 
porary literature, we are forced to the position that motivational 
psychology is a part, only a part, of explanatory psychology. 

There is no logical reason for this limitation of the field. There 
is a practical justification for it in that explanatory psychology is 
much too broad in its scope for treatment in any single chapter or 
textbook. One is forced to select At the present time no precise 
formulation of the field of motivational psychology has been gener- 
ally accepted by psychologists. 

There are two interrelated views, however, which make a strong 
appeal. One of these limits the scope of motivational psychology to 
the description and explanation of purposive behavior. The other, 
broader in outlook, defines the field in terms of biomechanics or 
the energetics of activity including the problem of the regulation of 
behavior. The writer has attempted to show the interrelation of 
these two formulations, and to demonstrate that both must neces- 
sarily be supplemented by a genetic account of the development of 

The Definition of Motivation in Terms of the Release of 
Energy, If we seek the most fundamental conditions of human 
conduct, we come ultimately face to face with the problem of ener- 
getics. In the strict sense of the term, a motive is that which arouses 
movement. Motivating conditions release energy and thus initiate 
bodily activity. 

Accordingly, all the factors described in this book as motivating 
are conditions which release physical energy. The scientific study 
of motivation falls within mechanics, or more narrowly, within 
biomechanics. The bodily states of hunger or thirst, for example, are 
associated with energy release. If a rat is deprived of food or water, 
he becomes increasingly active up to a certain maximum of general 
activity. With longer deprivation periods the level of activity falls 
and the animal passes into a weakened and relatively inactive state. 
From the energetics viewpoint, the level of motivation increases up 
to a certain maximum and then decreases. 

The release of bodily energy has definite relationships to the 
various endocrine secretions, as Richter, Hoskins, Cannon, and 
others have shown. Cannon has demonstrated that in times of great 



stress the secretion of the adrenal glands mobilizes the bodily re- 
serves of energy. This energizing effect is a motivating one. 

Many forms of illness are followed by reduction of vigor. Persons 
who have suffered from severe attacks of influenza experience a pro- 
longed period of weakness following the disease. The condition is 
characterized as a lack of energy or "p e p"; and objectively it is ap- 
parent in a lowered activity level. In conditions of bodily depletion 
following overactivity and illness, relatively little overt activity 
occurs. The lowered level of energy expenditure, so far as that is 
shown in gross behavior, is a lowered degree of motivation. 

*The Regulation of Energy Expenditure. Once the field of 
motivation has been defined in terms of energy, questions concern- 
ing the regulation of energy expenditure arise. Some of these relate ' 
to the purposive set or goal orientation of an organism, which directs 
into definite channels the energy released by stimulation. Other ques- 
tions refer to the passive structure of the organism, especially to the 
neural structure, which constantly limits and restricts behavior, just 
as the rails of a track limit the course taken by a locomotive. 

The distinction between limiting and exciting conditions of be- 
havior is an important one in any definition of motivational psy- 
chology. Some forms of behavior lack a dominant and persistent goal 
orientation. For example, a rat placed in an activity cage may turn 
the wheel vigorously for hours, seemingly without purpose. The 
familiar song "I don't know where I'm going, but I'm on my way" 
aptly describes the situation. Behavioral tendencies such as play, 
exploration, and general emotional excitement ordinarily lack a 
single fixed orientation; they often reveal the presence of many 
changing goals. 

In the fundamental drives, however, the behavior of an animal 
definitely becomes directed towards a goal In hunger, behavior be- 
comes focused upon food or potential sources of food. In sexual 
behavior, the mate is the normal goal object. 

In the case of the maternal drive, which Warden and his collabora- 
tors found under certain conditions to be the strongest of all drives 
in the rat, there is a fixed orientation of the mother towards the lit- 
ter. If removed from the litter, she returns. Yet the maternal drive is 
not normally revealed by restless activity, i.e., high energy expendi- 
ture in behavior; it is shown rather in the quiet nursing of the young. 


Here is a strong determination in which "fixity of purpose" is the 
dominant factor. The case resembles' that of Simon Stylites who 
showed a persistent determination with relatively little energy ex- 

The regulation of energy expenditure is to a greater or less degree 
a matter of structural limitation in the sense that the structure of 
any machine restricts its performance. A man will not speak a for- 
eign tongue, for example, no matter how greatly he is excited, un- 
less the necessary neural structure has been acquired through a 
process of learning. 

Motives and Incentives. Some of the essential motivating 
conditions are within the organism; others are within the environ- 
ment. Thus, if an animal is hungry, the drive stimulus from his 
contracting stomach is obviously internal. The food object towards 
which the animal moves is clearly an environmental factor. To dis- 
tinguish organic from environmental motivating factors, it has been 
suggested that the former be called motives and the latter incentives. 
Thus, desires, intentions, and goal sets are motives. Praise, reproof, 
reward, punishment, money, food, mate, etc., are incentives. 

Incentives can be subdivided into two groups as social and non- 
social. The presence of another individual, his verbal suggestion, 
his emotional outcry, are socid incentives. Purely physical stimula- 
tions, as cold temperature on the skin, a bright light on the eye, 
are non-social incentives. Any environmental stimulus may be re- 
garded as an incentive when it is considered in relation to the arousal 
and regulation of behavior. 

Final Definition of Motivational Psychology. Motivational 
psychology may be defined as the study of all conditions which 
arouse and regulate the behavior of organisms. The arousal of 
behavior necessarily implies a release of physical energy from the 
tissues. The regulation of behavior includes the control of activity 
through purposive determinations, as well as the restriction of activ- 
ity by organic structure. 


For general orientation in motivational psychology the following are helpful: 
r. DASHIELL, J. F. Fundamentals of objective psychology. Boston: Houghton 
Mifflin, 1928. Pp. xviii + 588. Chap. 9, Motivation. 

4 6 


2. DisERBNSj C. M.j and VAUGHN, J. The experimental psychology of motivation. 

Psychol. Bull., 1931, 28^ 15-65. (A very useful review of experimental 
studies upon motivatiqn classified according to topic.) 

3. HOLLINGWORTH, H. L. Psychology, its facts and principles. New York: Apple- 

ton, 1928. Pp. xx + 539. Chap. 16, Motivation, the dynamics of mental 

4. PERRIN, F. A. C. Psychology, its methods and principles. New York: Holt, 1932. 

Pp. xii + 336. Chap. 4, The motivation of behavior. 

5. THOMSON, M. K. The springs of human action, a psychological study of the 

sources, mechanisms, and principles of motivation in human behavior. 
New York: Appleton, 1927. Pp. xvi + 501. 

6. TROLAND, L. T. The fundamentals of human motivation. New York: Van 

Nostrand, 1928. Pp. xiv 4- 521. (For general orientation Chaps. 2, 3, 4, 
are recommended.) 

7. TROLAND, L. T. Motivational psychology. Chap. 25 in C. Murchison's Psv- 

chologies of 1930. 

8. WARDEN, C. J. Animal motivation, experimental studies on the albino rat. 

New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1931. Pp. xii -f- 502. (The book con- 
tains reprints of experiments performed by various investigators in the 
Columbia laboratory.) 

Materials used to illustrate the practical importance of motivational psychology 
are listed below. The books by Gowin, Overstreet, and Lumley have been added 
to the list for the sake of the student whose primary aim is to gain insight into the 
available and practical means of controlling human behavior. 

9. BAGBY, E. The psychology of personality, an analysis of common emotional 

disorders. New York: Holt, 1928. Pp. viii -f 236. 

10. CRAWFORD, A. B. Incentives to study, a survey of student opinion. New 
Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1929. Pp. xii + 194. 

ir. GOWIN, E. B. The executive and his control of men, a study in personal effi- 
ciency. New York: Macmillan, 1927. (New ed.) Pp. xvi + 349. Part II, 
Motivating the group. 

12. KITSON, H. D. A study of the output of workers under a particular wage- 

incentive. Univ. Jour, of Business, 1922, i, 54-68. 

13. LUMLEY, F. E. Means of social control. New York: Century, 1925. Pp. 

xiv TT- 415. (This book is a study of rewards, punishment, praise, flattery, 
persuasion, propaganda, slogans, advertising, gossip, and other means of 
controlling human behavior.) 

14. McDouGALL, W. Outline of abnormal psychology. New York: Scribner, 

1926. Pp. xvi + 572? 

15. OVERSTREET, H. A. Influencing human behavior. New York; Norton, 1925. 

Pp. viii -h 296. (A popular, readable presentation.) 

16. WILSON, H. B. and G. M. The motivation of school usor^. Boston: Houghton 

Mifflin, 1916. Pp. ix + 265. 

Works referred to in discussing motivational increments and decrements 


and the effect of a combination of motivating factors upon performance! 
are listed below: 

17. ALLPORT, F. H. The influence of the group upon association and thought. 

/. Exper. PsychoL, 1920, 3, 159-182. 

1 8. ALLPORT, F. H. Social psychology. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1924. Pp. 

xiv 4. 453. chaps, ii, 12, 13, 14. 

19. CHAPMAN, J, C., and FEDER, R. B. The effect of external incentives on improve- 

ment. /. Educ. PsychoL, 1917, 8, 469-474. 

20. CHASE, L. Motivation of young children, an experimental study of the influence 

of certain types of external incentives upon the performance of a task. Univ. 
Iowa Studies; Studies in Child Welfare, 1932, 5, No. 3. Pp. 119. 

21. CRAWLEY, S. L. An experimental investigation of recovery from work. Arch. 

PsychoL, 1926, 13, No. 85. Pp. 66. 

22. DISERENS, C. M., and VAUGHN, J. The experimental psychology of motivation. 

PsychoL Bull., 1931, 28, 15-65. 

23. HURLOCK, E. B. The effect of incentives upon the constancy of the I.Q. 

Ped. Sem., 1925, 32, 422-434. 

24. JOHANSON, A. M. The influence of incentives and punishment upon reaction 

time. Arch. PsychoL, 1922, 8, 54. 

25. LEUBA, C. J. A preliminary experiment to quantify an incentive and its effects. 

/. Abn. & Soc. PsychoL, 1930, 25, 275-288. 

26. LIGON, E. M. A comparative study of certain incentives in the learning of 

the white rat. Comp. PsychoL Monog., 1929, 6, No. 2. Pp. 95. 

27. MAYER, A. Uber Einzel- und Gesamtleistung des Schulkindes. Arch. f. d. 

ges. PsychoL, 1903, i, 276-416. 

28. TERMAN, L. M. The measurement of intelligence, an explanation of and a 

complete guide for the use of the Stanford revision and extension of: The 
Binet-Simon Intelligence Scale. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1916. Pp. xviii 
+ 362. 

29. WHITTEMORE, I. C. The influence of competition on performance, an experi- 

mental study. /. Abn. & Soc. PsychoL, 1924, 19, 236-253. 

Following are the works used and referred to in the section upon definition 
of the problem and scope of motivational psychology: 

30. BILLS, A. G. Inhibition and facilitation. PsychoL Bull., 1927, 24, 473-487. 

(Review of literature.) 

31. BILLS, A. G. Mental work. PsychoL Bull., 1931, 28, 505-532. (Review of 


32. Moss, F. A. Your mind in action, applications of psychology. Boston: Hough- 

ton Mifflin, 1929. Pp. x + 477- Chaps, i, 2, 3, 4. 

33. POFFENBERGER, A. T. Applied psychology, its principles and methods. New 

York: Appleton, 1929. Pp. xx 4- 586. Chaps. 9, 10, n, 12, 13. 

34. WEVER, E. G. Water temperature as an incentive to swimming activity in the 

rat. /. Comp. PsychoL, 1932, 14, 219-224. 

35. WOODWORTH, R. S. Psychology. New York: Holt, 1934. (3rd ed.) Pp. 



"The literal meaning o motivation is the process of inducing 


The phrase "spontaneous activity" occurs repeatedly in the litera- 
ture of animal motivation. Strictly speaking, however, the concep- 
tion implies indeterminisrn. On account of this, scientific writers 
ordinarily put the phrase "spontaneous activity" in quotation marks, 
explaining that all activity is causally determined but that much of 
it depends upon obscure physiological and environmental conditions. 
Viewed in this light, "spontaneous activity" is not "spontaneous" at 
all, in the strict sense of the word. With further knowledge it would 
be placed in the class of causally determined behavior. 

A more useful conception within the field of behavior is that 
which differentiates the specific reaction patterns of an organism, on 
the one hand, from the general level of its activity, on the other. 
If the total activity of an organism be considered without regard to 
the specific patterns of behavior of which it is composed, one can 
truthfully say that at some times the animal is more active than at 
others. The concept of a general level of activity which varies with 
outer circumstances and with inner conditions is a thoroughly sound 


The total activity of an organism can be regarded as a complex 
pattern built out of many separate segments of behavior. In the white 
rat, for example, it contains such segments of behavior as walking, 
running, climbing, sniffing, biting, gnawing, eating, drinking, urinat- 
ing, defecating, preening, copulating, and fighting. These and many 
other bits of behavior can be recognized easily in the total stream 
of ongoing activity. 



Some of these distinguishable activities appear rhythmically when 
an animal is observed under constant conditions; others appear 
sporadically. Eating, for example. Is periodic; where there is an ade- 
quate supply of food the periodicity is approximately constant. 
Similarly, the drinking of water, the eliminative processes, female 
sexual behavior, sleeping, breathing (respiratory cycle), all have 
their characteristic periodicities. But no such cycles are known for 
gnawing, burrowing, climbing, preening, running, fighting. 



The tambours are connected to markers which write upon a rotating drum covered with 
smoked paper. A time line is also traced on the drum. 

Cycles of Specific Activities and of General Activity. 
Richter has devised several ingenious forms of apparatus to register 
the successive times when a rat eats, drinks, urinates, defecates, etc. 
The apparatus diagrammed in Fig. 9 shows the means used for 
recording the urination and defecation rhythms. The behavior 
rhythms revealed by Richter's experiment are tabulated on p. 50. 

For some activities, the periodicity and the associated bodily organs 
are definitely known. For others, such as nest-building, gnawing, 
and burrowing, the pattern of activity is obvious, but no periodicity 
has been discovered; nor is a bodily mechanism known which might 
cause such periodicity. For still others, a careful analysis of the 




Associated Organ 


x~3 hour 



x~3 hour 



3-5 hour 



3-4 hour 



4 day 


















7 day 



i8~zi day 



40-1x0 day 














records reveals rhythms of general activity, but the physiological 
basis of these cycles and their biological significance remain un- 
known. In the last-mentioned class are activity waves with a seveiv 
day period, an eighteen- to twenty-two-day period, and a long cycle 
with forty to one hundred and twenty days between the peaks of 

Richter pointed out that the periodic secretion of hormones from 
ductless glands might be the cause of these longer cycles of general 
activity. In more recent experiments, by surgical removal of various 
glands, he actually demonstrated the predicted relationship between 
internal secretions and the level of general activity. (The work will 
be described presently. See Figs. 17, 18, and 19.) 

The Satiation of Specific Activities.* When a hungry 
rat is given an unlimited supply of food he at first eats rapidly and 
then gradually slows down as satiation approaches. As his period 

* It may at first seem incorrect to employ the term "satiation" when referring to an activity 
rather than to an internal bodily need or a conscious appetite. It should be remembered, 
however, that the total process of satiation is the same whether one views it behaviorally, 
physiologically, or from the standpoint of individual experience. 


of eating progresses he becomes increasingly distractable; extraneous 
behavior, such as preening, sniffing, and exploring, increases in fre- 
quency, and finally he deserts the food. 

These changes in the rate of eating have been studied experi- 
mentally by Skinner, using two forms of apparatus.^ With one form 
the rat was forced to reach down with his paw for specially pre- 
pared pellets of food. Every time the animal reached for one of these 
pellets a record was made automatically. With another set-tip the rat 
had to learn to operate a lever which automatically released a stand- 



Ordinates record number of pieces of food eaten; abscissae, time In hours from the begin- 
ning of the eating period. 

ardized food-pill as in a slot machine. Each time the animal pressed 
the lever, the movement was recorded on a rotating drum. 

With both kinds of apparatus results were the same. Figure 10 
presents one of Skinner's curves. The equation for the curve of 
satiation was found to be 

in which JV is the amount of food which a rat has eaten up to any 
time t (counted from the beginning of the eating period) ; and K 
and n are constants. The value of n, Skinner found, was of approxi- 
mately constant magnitude (0.67 to 0.71) throughout a series of 
experiments. If results from different experiments are plotted loga- 

* They have also been investigated by the writer with similar results, but a description of 
the work has not yet been published. 


rithmically, the curves become straight parallel lines, and n measures 
the slope of these lines. The constant K has been found to vary with 
the animal subject employed, the degree of hunger, the size of the 
pieces of food, and the unit chosen to plot the data. The value of K, 
therefore, has to be determined for a particular set of experimental 

The fact that this equation is valid with both kinds of apparatus 
and for both types of behavior shows that the approach to satiation 
depends upon physiological changes which are wholly independent 
of the particular sensory-motor mechanisms by which food is ob- 
tained. As the rat approaches satiation the threshold values for the 
specific reactions of seizing, chewing, and swallowing the food are 
raised. This agrees with the observation upon human infants that 
the threshold for movements of sucking and chewing varies with 
the period of food deprivation- Skinner's work suggests, interest- 
ingly enough, that the demand for a given food can be measured 
in terms of the rate of eating. 

In general, the idea of satiation as a limit which an appetite ap- 
proaches as it is progressively satisfied is applicable to thirst, to 
sexual desire, and, Indeed, to all normal cravings. The male sex 
drive of the rat, for example, is weakest after a period of copu- 

Lewin has applied the notion of satiation to various everyday ac- 
tivities, such as playing a piece repeatedly on the piano, manipulat- 
ing a toy, and so on. In these activities one sooner or later has had 
enough and ceases. Lewin also writes of over satiation. In the case 
of eating, the surfeited animal may become not merely indifferent, 
but even negative to food. There is a distinction between enough 
and too much. 


Although, as noted above, behavior can be analyzed into the 
segments which make it up, it can also be regarded and studied as 
an unanalyzed whole. If a guinea pig is placed in a triangular activ- 
ity cage (Fig. n), every bodily movement, without distinction as 
to its specific nature, can be recorded. A graphic record shows vari- 
ations in the relative amount of general activity. Every movement 
of the animal in the cage, no matter how slight, leaves a mark; a 



small, brief movement leaves a single short mark, whereas vigorous, 
prolonged movements leave a whole series of marks of varying 
amplitude. From the record the relative amounts of activity and 
rest per hour can be determined. These records, as we have said, 
do not analyze behavior into running, preening, scratching, etc. 
They merely show variations in the gross level of general unanalyzed 

FIG. ii. RICHTER'S TRIANGULAR ACTIVITY CAGE. (Drawing after Nicholls.) 
In this activity cage a triangular living compartment is supported at its corners upon 
tambours. The three tambours are connected so as to form a single pneumatic system. 
The tube from the series of tambours connects with a marker which leaves its tracing upon 
a rotating smoked drum. If an animal is motionless, the record on the drum is a straight 
line, but if the animal is vigorous and .active, bodily movements are recorded on the drum 
as a series of marks. 

Another type of apparatus used to study general activity is the 
rotating cage, shown in Plate II, which is similar to the apparatus 
commonly seen in zoological gardens for the exercise of squirrels, 
rats, and other small animals. These animals will sometimes run 
for hours almost continuously in the apparatus. When a rat climbs 
up one side of the wheel gravity pulls it in a counter direction. The 
more actively he runs the faster the wheel turns. An automatic 
counter, called a cyclometer, is attached to the axle to record the 
number of revolutions per hour or day. 

The rotating drum records running activity; other types of be- 
havior, e.g., sitting quietly, preening, sniffing, etc., are not to any 
appreciable degree registered. Since running, in many animals, is a 



satisfactory index of the level of general activity, the rotating cage 
is a useful apparatus for studying the conditions which regulate 
the activity level. A typical experiment with this apparatus is the 
following of Wang. 

The Oestrous Rhythm in the White Rat. Wang kept fe- 
male rats in rotating cages and recorded daily the amount of their 
running activity. He found a peak of high activity once in every four 



Some of the cages are opened to show where animals are introduced and removed. 
Counters are attached to the central axes of drums to record the number of revolutions in 
both clockwise and counterclockwise directions. Screens placed between the cages make it 
impossible for an animal to see others. 

to five days. Figure 12 shows the alternations between relatively 
high and relatively low activity. The peaks of activity occurred at 
times when the female was sexually receptive to the advances of the 
male. These activity peaks and the sexual receptivity have both been 
shown to depend upon the secretions of the ovarian hormone. 

That the secretion of the ovaries is the determining factor in this 
cycle rests upon the following experimental evidence: The activity 
cycles are absent in the male and in the prepubescent female. Wang 
found that before puberty activity in the female is at a low level 
and lacks a cycle; with the onset of puberty there is a sudden burst 



of activity, with rhythmic fluctuations which at first are irregular in 
appearance and later become periodic. Again, the cycles are absent 
during pregnancy and lactation, when oestrus and ovulation are sus- 
pended. After a litter is weaned there is an uncertain period of ten 
or more days before the normal cycle is restored. Further, condi- 
tions which temporarily suspend the oestrous rhythm, such as in- 
fertile copulation or stimulation of the uterine cervix, also suspend 





Ordinates give the number of rotations of the cage per day. Abscissae represent successive 
days in the course of the experiment. This curve was made by a female rat, aged 80 to 
1 60 days. 

the activity cycle. And finally, the activity cycle ceases with removal 
of the ovaries. 

Here, then, supported by sound experimental evidence, is an ex- 
ample of the dependence of general activity upon a chemical agent 
in the blood. 

Activity and Eating Time. If rats are fed regularly once a 
day, their general activity level varies in relation to the time of 
feeding. Richter studied this relationship, using the triangular ac- 
tivity cage shown in Fig. n. The work was done in a vault under 
conditions which eliminated noise and odor. The temperature of the 
room was kept at 23 C, and the room was either dark or else at a 
constant illumination. 

The distribution of general activity during the twenty-four hours 

5 6 




12 123456789 101112 123456789 1011 


Ordinates indicate the amount of activity as determined by the number of marks on the 
kymograph paper made per hour by the rat. Abscissae give the successive hours following 
the noon feeding. Composite curve from 40 animals, 250 days old. 


following the time of feeding is shown in Fig. 13. The curve shows 
the composite result from forty rats, 250 days old, fed at noon daily 
and tested individually. The ordinates indicate the number of marks 
made on the kymograph paper per hour, every movement of a rat 
in the cage making a mark. Abscissae represent successive hours In 
the twenty-four-hour period following each daily feeding. It should 
be explained that individual records show wide deviations in form 
from the composite curve here reproduced, also that the shape of 
the curve varies with the age of the animals. 

When the feeding time was shifted from noon to midnight, and 
again when it was placed at 8 P.M., the shape of the activity curves 
remained the same relative to the time of feeding. This makes it 
evident that the time relative to the feeding-hour rather than the 
time of day is the important factor determining the shape of the 
curve. The curve was the same when records were taken in the dark 
and under constant illumination, which is conclusive evidence 
against changes in illumination having anything to do with the 

The curve in Fig. 13 shows that, for four to five hours just after 
eating, the rats are inactive; after this they become intensely active 
again for eight to ten hours, then there is a period of five to seven 
hours of very low activity; during the last two to three hours gen- 
eral activity rapidly increases up to the time of feeding. In the 
last hour prior to feeding (u to 12) there is a very marked rise of 
activity. The peak of activity in this curve shows that the activity 
level does not rise uniformly with the lengthening of the period of 
food deprivation. This fact is commonly recognized in human life. 
Immediately after a meal one is relatively inactive, but several hours 
later the activity level rises; and just before a regular and expected 
meal the activity level is higher still. 

When rats are deprived of food continuously for a prolonged 
period of time, there is a definite increase in the activity level for 
two or three days, and thereafter a steady and marked decrease to 
the point of almost complete inactivity on the eighth day. When 
deprived of both food and water there is an immediate increase 
in activity on the first and into the second day, then a steady decrease 
to the point of almost complete inactivity on the fifth day. 


Activity Age, A young mother, a friend of the writer, at- 
tempted for one hour to imitate ail of her one-year-old daughter's 
physical activities. Watching the baby, she sat down on the floor s 
pulled herself up by her hands, waved her arms about ? crept rapidly 
this way and that, handled objects, vocalized, and so on. At the close 
of the hour she was thoroughly f atigued, whereas the baby was still 
in fine fettle. The baby, of course, had the advantage of smaller size; 
her activities involved relatively less physical work* 

Revolving Drums 
Stationary Activity Cages 
Nest Building 

300 400 
.Age in Days 


(Modified presentation of Jtichter's curves.) 
The explanation is in the text. 

It is commonly recognized that aged persons are not so active 

as children, and that older persons have less "pep" and vigor than 
the young. The writer has repeatedly observed a group of several 
hundred aged men and women (65 to 100 years old) housed in an 
old people's home, and he is impressed with the fact that they pass 
most of their time sitting around idly in their rooms and parlors, 
and relatively little in walking about the ample grounds and beauti- 
ful gardens of the institution. In an orphans* home the children can 
be seen running and playing actively out-of-doors from morning till 
night except in so far as special rules are enforced to keep them in 
their rooms; on the inside they are also in constant activity. These 
casual observations upon human behavior in relation to age agree 
with laboratory results from animal subjects. 


The relation between activity and age in the rat has been inves- 
tigated by Richter, using both the stationary activity cage and the 
rotating drum apparatus. In addition, nest-building activity was 
measured, in a neatly worked-out experiment, in terms of the num- 
ber of strips of paper used in making the nest. This activity, too, was 
studied in relation to age. 

Figure 14 shows the relation of activity to age as measured by these 
three methods. For the sake of comparison the scales are repre- 
sented in proportions such that the maximal activity is at the same 
level for all scales. The curves agree in showing that the general 
activity of the rat increases with age up to a maximum at approxi- 
mately 175 days, and then declines as age advances. Old rats are 
very decidedly less active than young ones. 

It would be interesting to know whether the activity curve for 
the human life span has the same general shape as that presented in 
the above figure, but unfortunately this cannot be deduced from 
data obtained with white rats. 

Activity and Illumination. Richter also compared the activity 
of rats in darkness with that under a constant bright illumination. 
The records indicate that the rat is more active in darkness than in 
the light; in other words, he is a nocturnal animal. The records show 
further that he becomes more nocturnal as age advances. 

At the age of sixty days the rat is 1.34 times more active in dark- 
ness than in the light. From this age onward the ratio increases until 
at 600 days the animal is more than twice as active in the dark as 
he is in the light. What bodily basis there is for his increasing noc- 
turnal activity is unknown. It may be an acquired adaptation, of 
obvious value in protection from enemies, rather than an hereditary 
trait. Whether nocturnal and diurnal tendencies change with age 
in man is not definitely known, but it is commonly said that man 
becomes more nocturnal in his habits with age, 

Another investigation of the darkness versus light problem was 
made by Nicholls, who compared the activity of guinea pigs under 
uniform artificial light with that in complete darkness. Six pigs, 
weighing 200 to 300 grams (ages not specified), were given an 
activity test in darkness for a week, and again in light for the 
same length of time. The records were found to be similar under 
the two conditions; there was only one hour more of total activity 


per day in darkness than in light, for the six pigs. To a very slight 
and doubtfully significant extent, therefore, the guinea pig is also a 
nocturnal animal 

Activity and Temperature. Between the temperatures of 75 
and 80 F. guinea pigs can be seen stretched out quietly upon the 
floors of their cages, for at these temperatures they are relatively 

Nicholls controlled the temperature of a dark room by means of 
an electric heater and took continuous activity records at different 
temperatures. The work was done in a special room of the Johns 
Hopkins physical laboratory, which was designed to maintain con- 
stant temperature and humidity, and to be free from vibrations. The 
temperature was varied from day to day, but was kept approxi- 
mately constant throughout each entire day of the experiment. A 
thermograph was used to record any slight temperature changes. 

Richter's triangular activity cage was employed. To obtain an 
objective measure, the number of feet and inches of kymograph 
record which showed activity was determined. Parts of the record 
with two and a half minutes or more of rest (one-eighth inch on 
the record) were not counted in the activity total. The hour during 
feeding and adjustment of the apparatus was omitted; and hence 
the daily record was for twenty-three hours. 

Although the guinea pigs were active a large proportion of the 
time the amount of activity varied markedly with the temperature. 
It was demonstrated that as temperature rises degree of activity falls, 
and vice versa. Neither dangerously high nor extremely low tem- 
peratures, however, were used in this experiment. 

The relationship between activity and temperature is presented 
graphically in Fig. 15. The graph shows an inverse relationship 
between activity level and temperature; at 65 F. the guinea pig is 
distinctly more active than at 85 F. At the lower temperatures the 
animals are almost continuously active, whereas at higher tempera- 
tures they take intermittent rest periods varying in duration from a 
fraction of a minute to about ten minutes. Some of the variability 
in activity shown in Fig. 15 is doubtless due to an adaptation factor. 
Although the room temperature was approximately constant for an 
experimental day, the sequence of changes from day to day was 



somewhat haphazard, and this necessitated repeated thermal adap- 

Another illustration of the relation between temperature and 
activity is taken from an experiment by Wever. In this work rats 





FIG. 15. 

65 79" 83 84 85 86 87 



(Data from Nichotts.} 

The height of a column indicates the average number of hours of activity occurring dur- 
ing a twenty-three-hour period, for three pigs. The base line shows the temperature. 

were first accustomed to the task of swimming down a trough of 
water 220 centimeters long and 13 centimeters wide. The apparatus 
was tin-lined to prevent escape of the animals, and it was filled to a 
depth of ii centimeters so as to force the rats to swim. The swim- 
ming time for this course was measured in seconds. 
In the experiment eight temperatures of the water were used, 


differing by 5 steps and held constant to within iC. Twenty-two 
rats swam the course twice a day for eight consecutive days. The 
second swim was always at a different temperature from the first, 
and the order of presenting the temperatures was irregular. The 
average swimming time for all the rats at each temperature was cal- 
culated, keeping the figures for the first and the second daily trials 
in two separate series. 

Figure 16 presents these results graphically in two curves. The 
two curves, for the first and the second series of daily trials, are Very 





20 25 30 35 40 

Water Temperature {degrees Cent) 

Sec text for description. 

similar. The greatest activity and fastest swimming time occurred 
in cold water at 10. The slowest time was at 40, a temperature 
very close to the body temperature of the animals (about 37.5). 
At 45 there was again an increase of speed but behavior became 
diffuse and disorganized. To the human hand 45 is hot, and a 
much higher temperature is distressing. 

Wever states the result thus: "The rats' incentive to escape from 
immersion varies with water temperature, being greatest for low 
temperatures and least, at values near body temperature; high tem- 
peratures produce considerable stimulation, but apparently of a dis- 


orienting character, resulting in a relatively inadequate perform- 


Despite the complete difference of conditions in the experiments 
of Nicholls and of Wever, their findings in general agree strikingly. 
From the two experiments the conclusion can be drawn that neuro- 
muscular activity varies in amount inversely with the external tem- 
perature, for values below and up to body temperature. Wever's 

141 151 

128 148 168 188 

211 231 108 
Age in days 



ADRENALECTOMY. (From Kichter.} 

experiment goes a step further, showing that, for temperatures 
moderately above that of the body, this relationship is reversed. 

Activity and the Endocrine Glands. In recent experiments 
Richter has shown that the surgical removal of the hypophysis, 
adrenals, gonads, or thyroid is followed by a marked lowering of 
the activity level. After hypophysectomy the animals become almost 
totally inactive; the effect of adrenal ectomy is less marked; that of 
gonadectomy still less; and that of thyroidectomy the least of the 
four, although it, too, produced a not inconsiderable reduction of 

Figure 17 shows the effect upon running activity of removal of 
the pituitary in one case and the adrenals in another. The subjects 
were female rats. After the operations the amount of general activity 

6 4 


suddenly and markedly dropped to a very low level, and remained 
at this level indefinitely. 

The effect of gonadectomy upon running activity is presented in 
Fig. 18. The curves show clearly that the activity level is exceed- 
ingly low in the absence of the gonadal secretions. Despite the 
marked lowering of activity level, however, the relative variations 
dependent upon age are still appreciable (compare with Fig. 14). 

12000 T 

Average Daily Running Activity Ten Day Average 

35 45 55 65 75 

85 95 105 115 125 135 145 155 
Age in days 


7 9 

Gonadectomized Animals 

35 45 55 65 75 85 95 105 115 125 135 145 155 

One surprising result which sometimes occurred after surgical 
removal of these glands was the production or accentuation of activ- 
ity rhythms. The graphs in Fig. 19 display them well Precisely 
what bodily mechanisms are responsible for the appearance of these 
activity rhythms has yet to be discovered. The science of endo- 
crinology is developing so rapidly that we can confidently expect 
much light upon the problems of activity and glandular function 
in the near future.* 

It is important to note in this connection that a number of glands 
can be removed without affecting activity in any way. These include 

* For an interesting survey of the activities of the endocrine glands the reader is referred 
to : R. G. Hoskins, The Tides of Ufe, the Endocrine Glands in Bodily Adjustment. New York: 
Norton, 1933. 


the pineal gland, the thymus, and the posterior lobe of the pituitary 

A. Pituitary injured 






B. Thyroid and parathyroids 





206 226 246 266 286 306 

C. One ovary totally removed 

Other ovary only partially removed 






136 156 

Age in days 



The Problem of Nervous and Mental Energy. There is 
no doubt that an individual often experiences an inner urge to 
action which he describes as a mental or a nervous tension, or pres- 
sure. The language of daily life is filled with expressions such as 


"will power," "mental force," "strength of purpose," "emotional 
drive," which imply the existence of mental energies or forces. 

In the laboratory the subjects themselves refer to "nervous energy," 
"inner urges/' "mental impulses," and so forth. In an introspective 
study of the older type, Barrett wrote: 

Motive-force was often spoken of by our Subjects. They felt this 
or that motive strong or weak. They were conscious at times of a 
certain conflict between motives, as though two motives were meas- 
uring their strength. They were aware too, of the augmentation or 
diminution of the force of this or that motive, and at times, ven- 
tured to explain the cause of such phenomena; . . . 

Professional psychologists differ in the emphasis they place upon 
will or conation (as it has been called). McDougall stresses "pur- 
posive striving" and "hormic force," which latter he regards as a 
vital impulse or urge to act. Bergson stresses the "lan vital*' '; Schop- 
enhauer, the "will-to-live." Driesch and other vitalistic biologists 
have emphasized "entelechy" and similar dynamic principles which 
are opposed to the mechanistic interpretation of life. 

Freud, Jung, and other psychoanalysts have hypothesized uncon- 
scious psychical energies as primary motivating agents. Libido is 
assumed to be a free mental energy which can be transferred and 
shifted from one type of activity to another much as a liquid can 
be shifted in a system of ditches; libido can be repressed, sublimated, 
redirected, etc. 

These varied assumptions of vital forces have been in part based 
upon a realization of the remarkable complexities and adaptations 
of living organisms, plus an inability to explain life phenomena in 
terms of physics and chemistry, or conscious experience in terms of 
neurology. The assumption of mental force (which may or may not 
be identical with vital force) is grounded also in part upon one's 
consciousness of persistent activity in overcoming obstacles. Just as 
an individual is aware of himself as pushing, pulling, holding, re- 
sisting, and exerting muscular force in various other ways, so he is 
conscious of his own purposive strivings towards this or that ulti- 
mate goal, of his owa endeavors to realize an ideal. An individual, 
in the course of life, experiences many thwartings and satisfactions, 
innumerable failures and successes, conflicting urges, and the like. 


To account for these mental events the unsophisticated individual 
naively assumes the existence of mental forces. 

In criticizing the postulate of mental force, one principle to note 
is that the psychologist has first the task of describing conscious ex- 
periences as they exist, and then of interpreting them. When an 
individual is dynamically active his experience is predominantly a 
motor one, often with affective or emotional coloring. Direct self- 
observation during activity reveals Idnesthetic processes which are 
referred to the different muscle groups in action. The force, the 
struggle, the urge of purposive activity is described so far as it can 
be observed in terms of kinesthesis. 

One can pass from careful psychological descriptions of the action 
consciousness to sound physiological hypotheses, or one can move 
towards the assumption of psychic forces. If one holds to the view 
that psychological hypothesis must harmonize with physiological 
fact, then doctrines of libido and similar psychic forces should be 
abandoned. In evaluating Freudism, Lashley recapitulates his total 
argument in the following words: 

To sum up, the psychoanalysts have developed a crude mechanis- 
tic system of explanation based upon analogy with simple physical 
forces and with complete disregard of physiological facts which 
bear directly upon their problems. Their explanations, in so far as 
they are based upon the conception of physical or vital energy, are 
flatly contradicted by physiological evidence. Psychoanalysis has done 
important work in emphasizing and systematizing problems and 
has given to psychology such valuable categories for classification 
of types of behavior as conflict, rationalization, and the like, but 
the dynamic principles which have been advanced to explain the 
action of the Freudian mental mechanisms are scientifically un- 
sound. The problem of motivation is far more complex than the 
Freudians would have us believe and its solution is to be sought in 
the investigation of many related fields: the analysis of specific in- 
stinctive responses, the neural basis of emotions, the mutual in- 
fluence of habits, the total integration of all such systems of reaction. 
The hasty postulation of such crude vital forces as the libido can 
only delay experimental investigation and postpone a real insight 
into the true nature of human motives. 

An adequate picture of motivation must emphasize the basic 


energy transformations going on within the organism; but these 
are physical energy transformations, not mental. The older notion 
of vital spirits moving through neural tubes vanished when a more 
exact neurology came on the scene. And so will the conceptions of 
vital and mental forces vanish with the continued development of 
physiological psychology. 

The Physical Aspect of Behavior. Energy in the physical 
world appears in various forms as heat, light, motion, electrical 
potential, and so on and one form can be converted into another 
without gain or loss. The law of the conservation of energy states 
that energy can be neither created nor destroyed, and that there is 
quantitative equivalence when it is changed from one form to an- 

Energy, as a physical conception, can be considered as a product 
of two factors intensity and capacity. In a waterfall, for example, 
the energy in the water at the bottom of the fall depends upon the 
height of the cliff (intensity factor) and the quantity of water in 
the stream (capacity factor). The physicist defines the energy of a 

moving body as -- M is the capacity factor; is the intensity 

factor. Again, considering thermal energy, the intensity factor is 
measured by temperature, and the capacity factor is measured by 
mass X specific heat (thermal capacity). To illustrate, if one cubic 
centimeter of water is added to another cubic centimeter having 
exactly the same temperature, the thermal capacity is doubled but 
the intensity factor is unchanged. With electrical energy, the pres- 
sure is measured in volts (intensity factor) and the amount of cur- 
rent in amperes (capacity factor). 

Helmholtz considered energy as "free" or "bound." The former 
may be utilized to do work, but the latter is not available. For ex- 
ample, imagine two similar copper balls isolated from their sur- 
roundings but in contact with each other one of which has a dis- 
tinctly higher temperature than the other. The total system contains 
a certain quantity of heat energy, describable in terms of tempera- 
ture and thermal capacity of the copper balls. If undisturbed, part of 
the energy will pass from the warmer to the cooler body until finally 
both are equal in temperature. During this transfer the energy which 
is transferred may be used to do work, but once the transfer has 



been effected a thermal equilibrium is established and no work can 
be got out of the system itself even though the system contains a 
large quantity of energy. 

Within the animal body energy appears as movement the move- 
ment of muscles, blood, lymph, and various other organic move- 
ments and as body heat. The source of this energy is the oxidation 
of substances stored in the body. Thus, within the body, energy is 
chemically "bound," and it is the release of this potential energy 
which makes it possible to do muscular work. The liver, for ex- 
ample, stores potential energy, to be drawn upon continuously to 
meet the body's needs, in the form of glycogen. In biological 
emergencies these bodily reserves of energy are drawn upon more 
extensively than under normal resting conditions, and vigorous, 
prolonged activity ensues. 

Viewed physically, motivation is the process by which movement 
is produced and regulated. The basic questions in a study of motiva- 
tion are concerned with the release of potential energy, and with the 
direction and regulation of energy expenditures so as to produce pur- 
posive activity. 

The standpoint of energetics is familiar to the physiologist. In 
studying metabolism, for example, the amount of oxygen converted 
into carbon dioxide, per unit of time, is commonly used as an index 
of the rate of certain chemical reactions going on within the tissues. 
Again, in the experiments upon muscular work and fatigue the 
point of view of energetics is regularly assumed. 

Every stimulus which excites a response in a receptor cell releases 
energy within that cell. Similarly, receptor cells release energy in 
the neurons; the neurons in turn release energy stored in other 
neurons (for the propagation of a nerve impulse involves expendi- 
ture of at least a small amount of energy) ; and finally, energy is 
released in the gland and muscle cells. When an individual muscle 
fiber contracts, doing work, it utilizes energy stored within itself, 
but oxygen, sugar, and other substances are taken constantly from 
the blood. The entire physical process of behavior, from the simplest 
response of a cell to the most prolonged and vigorous activity of 
an organism, is one of energy transformation within the body. 

What does motivate us ? Is it the energy stored in the tissues ? Or 


the stimuli and other conditions which release the energy ? Or the 
kinetic energy itself after it has been released ? 

The answer to these fundamental questions is much the same as 
in the classical example of the billiard ball What motivates it in 
its course across the table ? Is it the mechanical energy transferred 
through the cue from the muscles of the player ? Or is it the kinetic 
energy in the moving ball, which is gradually reduced by friction? 
The question, "What makes the billiard ball move?" raises one of 
those ultimate problems which seem to extend beyond the realm of 
science. The best one can do is to describe the motion carefully and 
to study all the conditions upon which its characteristic motion 

Similarly, the question, "What motivates a man?" is an ultimate 
one to the physicist. In considering this question from the physical 
point of view the following points are important: First, the imme- 
diate energy source of behavior and of all muscular work is cer- 
tain chemical substances stored in the body. Second, stimuli, both 
environmental and internal, release this energy which is stored 
within. And third, in the energy transformations, heat and work 
are produced. Finally, energy expenditure is regulated and directed 
so as to produce certain results in behavior. 

The last of these points will be taken up later in our study. We 
must find out, for example, why Mary slammed the door yesterday 
and why she closed it quietly today. This is a problem in regulation 
and control of energy expenditure. 

Critique of the Doctrine of Drive. The term "drive," which 
has been widely used in discussions of motivation, came into psy- 
chology quite recently. The word, in its modern sense, was first used 
by Woodworth in 1918, in his Dynamic Psychology, and from this 
source it was taken up by animal psychologists. Woodworth wrote: 

Once the point of view of a dynamic psychology is gained, two 
general problems come into sight, which may be named the prob- 
lem of "mechanism" and the problem of "drive." One is the prob- 
lem, how we do a thing, and the other is the problem of what in- 
duces us to do it. Take the case of the pitcher in a baseball game. 
The problem of mechanism is the problem how he aims, gauges dis- 
tance and amount of curve, and coordinates his movements to pro- 
duce the desired end. The problem of drive includes such questions 


as to why he is engaged in the exercise at all, why he pitches better 
on one day than on another, why he rouses himself more against 
one than against another batter, and many similar questions. . . . 

Wood worth spoke of drive, not drives ; using the word in a gen- 
eral, not a specific, sense. He derived the term from mechanics; 
a machine must be driven if it is to move, and the drive of a machine 
is the supply of energy that puts the mechanism in motion. 

In a personal communication, from which I am permitted to 
quote, Woodworth writes as follows: 

I believe you are right in supposing that the current use of "drive" 
in animal psychology and other psychology springs from my use of 
the word in "Dynamic Psychology," 1918. 1 am sure I did not derive 
the word from any previous psychologist. I got it from mechanics. 
A machine has a mechanism, such that if it is put in motion it op- 
erates in a certain way; but it must be driven in order to move. 
The "drive" of a machine is the supply of energy that puts it in 

I went on to argue that the drive of behavior might be hunger 
or any instinctive tendency, but could also be any activity already 

The animal psychologists took up the word, as it seemed to me, 
because it carried no implications of conscious motive. As far as I 
know, the first to use the term in animal psychology was F. A. 
Moss who published a paper in 1924 on the "Study of Animal 
Drives," in which he introduced his "resistance" apparatus for meas- 
uring the drive in terms of the amount of resistance (electric shock) 
which it would overcome. This usage was soon followed by Dashiell, 
1925; by Tolman, 1926; by Richter, 1927;- by Warden, 1928. Moss 
writes me that he was familiar with my "Dynamic Psychology," 
though he does not definitely recall adopting the word from me. 
He used the term, not to describe any instinct or necessarily in- 
born condition in the animal, but to describe a certain set of chem- 
ical conditions that make the animal move in a definite direc- 
tion in the same way that the explosion of gas in the chamber of 
the automobile makes the piston move up and down, Dashiell, also, 
in his textbook of 1928, starts his account of drives by a reference 
to my book. So it seems likely that the animal psychologists adopted 
the term from me. 

It is true that the Germans use the word "Trieb" both for the drive 
of a machine and for animal impulse. German psychology has long 


spoken of the "tierische Triebe," such as the "Nahrungstrieb" and 
the "Tatigkeitstrieb." The word here carries the idea of blind im- 
pulse. "Drive" as used by the Americans seems not to carry this 
implication. The hunger drive is no less a drive when it leads to a 
deliberate search for food. Although the usages are so similar, they 
have no doubt arisen independently. 

There is another slightly different use of the word, illustrated by 
the sentence, "He has ability but lacks drive." I believe this usage 
has arisen from that of the animal psychologists. It is a shade dif- 
ferent from the long-standing usage referring to the drive of busi- 
ness or of a factory manager, and is more like another German usage, 
in which "Trieb" means about the same as "inclination." 

When Moss used the term "drive" in 1924 he wrote of specific 
concrete drives such as hunger, thirst, and sex. The basic thesis of 
his study is that "The behavior of any animal is the resultant of his 
drives to action and the opposing resistances" Drives are "impelling 
forces" in the situation that stimulate the animal to positive behavior, 
e.g., the hunger drive impels to food-seeking; the maternal drive 
impels the mother to go to the young, especially when they show 
distress. Resistances are "repelling forces" that stimulate to negative 
behavior; e.g., the presence of cats repels rats; and again, if rats are 
placed in a maze the floor of which is covered with crushed ice, 
they avoid the cold and seek the relatively warm, dry goal-box. 

After a series of experiments Moss drew some conclusions which 
stress the dynamic relationships of "drives" and "resistances." The 
main theses are reproduced below: 

1. Any animal drive may be measured in terms of the resistance 
overcome, provided the strength of the resistance is known. Or, 
where the strength of the drive is known and that of the resistance 
is not, the resistance may be measured in terms of the drives. 

2. Any drive that succeeds is stronger than the resistance over- 
come, and any drive that fails is not as strong as the resistance. For 
example, if a hunger drive caused by a forty-eight-hour starvation 
period, will make the animal take an electric shock of 12 v. to get 
food, but fails to get him to take the shock of 20 v., we may say 
that the strength of a forty-hour hunger drive lies between a 12 v. 
and a 20 v. opposing stimulus, being stronger than the 12 v. but 
weaker than the 20 v. 

3. If two independent drives are opposed by the same resistance 


and one drive overcomes the resistance while the other fails, the 
one that overcomes the resistance is the stronger drive. For example, 
if a seventy-two-hour hunger drive overcomes a 20 v. resistance and 
a sex drive fails to overcome the same resistance we may conclude 
that the hunger drive is stronger than the sex drive. 

4. Given two drives both functioning at the same time, and so 
arranged that neither can succeed without neglecting the other, the 
one that succeeds is the stronger drive. This is well illustrated in 
the balancing of hunger drive against the sex drive. 

5. Given two antagonistic resistances both functioning at the 
same time and both so arranged that neither can cease to function 
without overcoming the other, the one that overcomes is the stronger 
resistance. This is illustrated where the two opposing stimuli are 
the ice and the electric shock. 

6. When one drive by itself is not strong enough to- overcome a 
resistance, it may be reenforced by other drives, until it is strong 
enough to overcome the resistance. 

7. As a motive force is provoking the learning of such problems 
as the maze, that drive is strongest which causes the animal to learn 
the problem in the shortest time and with the fewest errors. 

8. Other things being equal, every time a resistance is overcome, 
the strength of that resistance is weakened. 

Following Woodworth and Moss, the term "drive" was employed 
by Dashiell, Tolman, Richter, Warden, Stone, and others, until 
today this word is in common use in animal psychology, and fre- 
quently appears in the elementary textbooks. 

Warden has defined his conception of drive in a purely descrip- 
tive way as a behavioral tendency directed towards or away from 
some specific goal object, such as food, water, mate, etc. He writes: 
"By a drive we mean an aroused reaction tendency which is char- 
acterized primarily by the fact that the activity of the organism 
is directed towards or away from some specific incentive, such as 
food, water, animal of opposite sex, etc." And again: "The term 
drive does not refer to the physiological state or system aroused 
either by an incentive or by deprivation of some sort, but to the 
behavior tendency resulting from the internal arousal." 

Holt in discussing animal drive, points out that it has two basic 
meanings: (i) Drive is the energy which does work chemical 
energy contained in food and stored in the sense organs, nerves, 




muscles, and other tissues. (2) Drive refers to those agencies which 
release stored energy stimuli impinging on sense organs without 
and within. 

The above meanings of the term "drive*' are so divergent that con- 
fused thinking will inevitably result unless the concept be defined 
precisely. The difficulty is further increased by overlapping meanings 
of "drive" and "incentive." 

In everyday life "incentive" means: "Something that arouses feel- 
ing, or incites to action; an exciting cause or motive; an incitement, 
provocation, 'spur/" The word is apparently confounded with in- 
censive, and other derivatives of the Latin incendere, to kindle, set 
on fire.* 

Warden has limited the term "incentive" to mean an external goal 
object food, water, mate, etc. which is capable of operating to 
arouse some fairly definite seeking tendency or drive. Inasmuch 
as internal and external factors usually cooperate in producing and 
regulating bodily movement, the compound term "incentive-drive" 
is sometimes used to designate the whole complex of energy-releas- 
ing conditions. 

Incentives, according to Leuba, have both an inner and an outer 
aspect: "There are two aspects to aa incentive: the incentive situation 
and the incentive attitude stimulated by that situation. The various 
Incentives are names for the various situations which will arouse 
the incentive attitude." It seems doubtful, however, whether the 
same word could be employed without confusion to designate both 
the exciting situation and the inner determination. 

Some of the current psychological interpretations of "Incentive" 

1. The goal object which satisfies the man's or animaPs seeking, 
e.g., food when hungry. 

2. The painful stimulation which evokes negative behavior, rais- 
ing the activity level, such as that from whip, spur, or electric grill 

3. In human psychology, "Incentive" may refer either to a goal 
object, or to a variety of special factors which facilitate or inhibit 
performance, or which affect the attitude of a subject, e.g., praise 
and reproof, reward and punishment, knowledge of results of work 

* Murray's New English Dictionary. 



4. Occasionally the term Is employed to designate background 
factors which facilitate or inhibit behavior, as temperature, humidity, 
illumination, noise, music. These background factors raise or lower 
the level of activity regardless of whether the behavior In progress Is 
goal-directed or not. 

5. Finally, the term "incentive" Is used loosely as a synonym for 

If we return now to the consideration of the term "drive/ 5 we find 
within psychology at least six distinct meanings: 

1. Drive Is the energy which moves the body. 

2. Drive Is the stimulus or else the Internal tissue condition which 
releases energy and leads to activity, 

3. Drive is general activity. For example, in the activity cage the 
female rat shows rhythmical variations In "drive." 

4. Drive is any behavioral tendency, whether goal-directed or not, 
such, as playfulness, sociability, laziness, exploratory trend, restless- 
ness, etc. 

5. A drive Is a specific, goal-directed activity such as food-seeking 
or mate-seeking. 

6. Finally, In human psychology, drive is a motivating factor 
within the personality an interest, purpose, or wish. In this sense, 
a specific drive Is a relatively stable set of the organism which more 
or less persistently directs behavior along a fixed course. For example, 
Simon Stylites possessed drive, even though he expended little energy 
In physical work, 

In view of the diversity of current meanings of "incentive" and 
"drive," the time appears to be ripe for a sharper analysis and clearer 
definition of terms. The present confusion has been brought about 
Indirectly by the attacks made by Kuo and others upon the tradi- 
tional doctrine of instinct. Much of what was formerly the meaning 
of "instinct" has been inadvertently transferred to the conception 
of "drive." Psychologists today speak of instincts with lifted eye- 
brows, but drives, whether we understand their nature or not, are 
still In excellent repute. 

The Energetic Conception of Drive. In Woodworks origi- 
nal sense, drive is the physical energy which makes the machine go. 
This energy is stored within the tissues and released by a variety 
of stimulations from within the organism and from its environ- 

7 6 


ment. Energy released or expended is manifest outwardly in be- 
havior. Every muscle twitch, when physically viewed, is an energy 
transformation. Every bodily activity, from the simplest reflex to 
the most prolonged and complex purposive act, is, from the stand- 
point of energetics, a physical process. 

This view of drive is useful to the psychologist. Other things being 
equal, the greater the amount of work accomplished the greater is 





Lazy range 




Time > 

The vertical at the left represents the hypothetical scale of activity from maximum to zero 
(reached only at death). The horizontal represents arbitrary units of time. The irregular 
lines A and B portray variations of general activity for two individuals, 

the energy expenditure, or drive. If a i8o-pound man climbs from 
the bottom of the Grand Canyon to its rim, carrying 20 pounds of 
clothing and pack, more than 1,000,000 foot-pounds of work have 
been accomplished. If the same man relaxes and sleeps at the top of 
the canyon, there is a marked drop in the expenditure of energy 
toward the bare minimum necessary for continued existence. The 
climbing man reveals much drive; the sleeping man, little. 

The above contrast is an extreme one, but one meets similar, 
though less pronounced, contrasts in activity level constantly in 
everyday life. We all have our ups and downs in the rate at which 
we expend energy. Consider the sketch in Fig. 20. 

There are many conditions which determine the activity level at 
any given time (pp. 52-65). Persistent stimulation from the tis- 


sues in hunger, thirst, pain, cold, etc., may act singly or. in com- 
bination to regulate the rate of energy expenditure. Tissue 
conditions dependent upon age are factors. Receipt of good news, 
success in love, praise, and other pleasant experiences are all asso- 
ciated with a raise of the activity level. Disease may markedly lower 
the level of activity. After a severe attack of influenza, for example, 
the patient generally experiences a prolonged period of enervation. 
These are only a few of the various conditions which play a part in 
the regulation of activity level. 

Some individuals are characterized as being uniformly energetic, 
vigorous, forceful, powerful in whatever they do; others are de- 
scribed as lazy, listless, lacking in energy and force. The former 
accomplish much physical work; the latter achieve little. (Compare 
A and B, Fig. 20.) The difference is appropriately called one of 
drive, because the energetic, active individual actually does expend 
more energy than the lazy one. 

The same kind of a difference exists in rats. In a doctoral disserta- 
tion at the University of Illinois, E. E. Anderson gave a group of 
fifty male rats a number of tests, most of which were motiva- 
tional in character. Significant positive correlations among the test 
scores were found. Factor analysis of these correlation coefficients 
was carried out by Thurstone's simplified method, and several fac- 
tors were revealed. The first of these is a general one which can 
reasonably be interpreted as drive. If this interpretation be correct, 
it can be said that individual rats differ characteristically in their 
general vigor or drive in the same way that persons are commonly 
observed to differ. 

Another conclusion of Anderson's investigation is that the inter- 
correlations which he obtained are not accounted for adequately by 
reference to the traditional drives. He suggests that certain basic 
and independently variable factors may exist, which are more funda- 
mental than the usual drives, and which account for the rats' per- 
formance on his battery of motivational tests. The problem needs 
further study. One would like to know more about these funda- 
mental factors and their physical basis. 

In the last analysis the energy with which we are concerned 
throughout this book is physical, and the conditions called motivat- 
ing are those which release this physical energy and regulate the 

7 8 


direction of its expenditure. Physiologically, the energy is derived 
immediately from chemical reactions within the muscle cells and 
other cells of the body. The carrying on of these reactions depends 
in turn upon a supply of oxygen obtained via the lungs, upon the 
presence of intracellular enzymes, upon glycogen liberated from the 
liver and other food materials carried to the tissues in the circulat- 
ing blood, upon the maintenance of a balance of endocrine hor- 
mones and many other vital chemical substances within the blood, 
and finally upon the maintenance of the physical conditions which 
favor life processes, in other words, health. A search of the organism 
for the fundamental sources of the energy that is expended when 
a muscle is moved would lead one to the many and complex bodily 
processes which constitute metabolism. 

To recapitulate, motivation is the process of producing move- 
ment. In other words, it is the liberating of "bound" energy so as 
to induce reaction. The greater the amount of energy liberated in 
a given situation, the greater the degree of drive. Drive is energy. 

Drive versus Drives. The drive o^ an organism, as we have 
seen, is the physical energy which makes it go. Current psychological 
usage, however, recognizes drives such as hunger, thirst, sexual, ex- 
ploratory, and maternal drives. This plural use of the term at once 
raises the problem of defining a specific drive and differentiating 
among the ones commonly accepted. 

If the meanings of drive listed on page 75 be carefully considered, 
it will be discovered that some of these describe behavior and others 
stress the conditions which cause or determine behavior. Some psy- 
chologists are inclined to hold to the purely descriptive usage, but 
the explanatory meanings of drive are too strongly entrenched to 
be lightly set aside. The explanatory meanings refer to the various 
organic conditions, the persisting environmental stimuli, and the 
mechanisms within the personality which cause, regulate, and con- 
trol behavior. 

Behavior is a process in, nature which can be studied from many 
angles. The different definitions of drive presuppose various points 
of view. From one standpoint, drive is the general level of activity, 
the amount or quantity of behavior, quite apart from its purposes. 
According to this view the fundamental problem of motivation is 
to relate behavior to the conditions which determine the activity 


level. From another standpoint, drive is purposive behavior. In this 
sense the sedentary thinker, for example, may be said to show drive 
even though he fails to expend much energy in behavior. From a 
third standpoint, drive is not behavior at all but rather something 
which explains or causes it. The different conditions in the tissues, 
the persisting environmental states, neural determinations these 
somehow motivate or drive an organism. From a fourth stand- 
point, the one presented in the foregoing section, drive is the physi- 
cal energy which makes the machine go. We have assumed only one 
kind of energy physical energy; differentiation among drives is not 
possible from this point of view. We may say that individuals differ 
in the degree of drive or energy shown in their activity and that 
the drive of an organism varies with conditions, but-when the word 
is used in this sense we cannot speak of different drives. 

To talk about drives (in the plural) it is necessary to make dis- 
tinctions. So far as differentiation of drives is concerned there are 
two main possibilities: first, to distinguish differences on the level 
of behavior, as, for example, that between food-directed and mate- 
oriented activity; second, to differentiate the more fundamental 
causes or conditions of behavior, as the persistent gastric contrac- 
tions, the continuous excitations of cutaneous pain nerves. These are 
the behavioral and the physiological meanings of drive as distinct 
from the strictly physical or mechanical meaning. 

Confusion about the definition of drive arises, not from any in- 
trinsic disorder within the facts of drive, but only because there are 
diverse viewpoints. The sane solution is to recognize that differences 
of interpretation exist, and then to be clear about one's own position. 
To the physical psychologist, drive is the energy which moves the 
body. To the student of behavior, drive is behavior, whether con- 
sidered as purposive or wholly lacking in goal orientation. To the 
physiological psychologist, drive consists of bodily and environmental 
conditions or parts of them which release energy and regulate 
the course of behavior. To the student of human personality, drive 
is an assumed motivating factor a wish, purpose, set, interest, ideal 
which controls the course of behavior. 

When the present writer speaks of drive in the sense of physical 
energy he will use the term in the singular. When he speaks of be- 
havior or of its determining conditions he will use the term in the 


plural or in a collective sense. The organism, as a fact, exhibits 
various drives in behavior. Moreover, for any one of these the or- 
ganic and environmental conditions are exceedingly complex. 
There are various driving mechanisms within the body; in the 
physiological sense these are the drives of behavior. 


The drives which lead the organism to nutriment, to reproduction, 
to care of the young, and those which protect the body from all 
sorts of harmful environmental agents, are based upon physical and 
chemical conditions. For an organism to continue living and for 
the species to survive certain internal requirements must be met. 

The Objective Criteria of Bodily Need. In all civiliza- 
tions and in all climes human behavior is directed towards the re- 
lief of bodily needs. There are needs to eat, to drink, to eliminate 
wastes from the body, to regulate body temperature relative to the 
environment, to avoid injury, to procreate, to nurse the young, to 
breathe in oxygen, etc. The environmental conditions for meeting 
these needs differ widely from place to place and from time to time; 
social customs and taboos are distinctly variable; but the basic bio- 
logical needs are constant factors in the situation. The student of 
human nature should recognize these dependable sources of motiva- 
tion, and understand how, through a process of rationalization or 
self-justification, the facts are often distorted. 

These basic human needs are dependable in the sense that they 
are invariably found where human life exists. They correspond to 
the physiological requirements for continued existence of the body 
cells and of the species. To be specific, water, protein, fat, carbo- 
hydrate, salts, vitamins, a certain temperature range, etc., are all es- 
sential to continued living of the tissues. The organism failing to 
maintain in the blood quite exact proportions of certain substances 
and to keep inner body temperature constantly within a narrow 
range of variation is soon eliminated in the struggle for existence. 

The concept of bodily need can be defined objectively in terms 
of survival. The organism needs those substances and energies the 
withholding of which will lead to its death; it needs oxygen, nitro- 
gen, calcium, and other substances to be present in the blood in 
certain proportions. Again, water is essential to the continued exist- 


ence of an organism; and the permanent deprivation of water leads 
to an increasing water need until the organism dies. Physiologists 
have ascertained precisely and in great detail those conditions which 
are essential to the survival of the tissues, and their findings give us 
an accurate means of determining what does and what does not 
constitute bodily need. 

Another possible way of defining bodily need objectively is in 
terms of the optimal conditions for survival, including growth, 
reproduction, health, etc. These optimal conditions imply relative 
freedom from the attacks of germs, freedom from nerve and muscle 
strain, a normal social environment, and other factors which favor 
physical and mental well-being. 

Need, objectively considered, is not the same as conscious desire. 
A man dying of hunger greatly needs food, but during starvation 
the hunger pang ceases, the conscious desire for food being replaced 
by a sense of weakness, and the activity level drops to a very low 
point. During all of this the need for food increases steadily to the 
point of death while the conscious desire for food at first increases 
and then decreases. Less obvious needs, such as those for specific 
vitamins or certain minerals, may never take the form of conscious 
desires, even when the want is severe enough to cause serious illness 
or death. In such cases there is, instead, a general sense of ill-being, 
or weakness, or nervousness. 

The definition of bodily need in terms of tissue requirements 
allows a distinction between objective need and the manifestations 
of need in behavior. For example, with the white rat, food depriva- 
tion raises the activity level for the first three or four days, but be- 
tween the fourth and the eighth days the animal becomes increas- 
ingly weak and passive (pp. 117-119). Bodily need increases steadily 
to the point of death, but the way in which it shows itself in be- 
havior is variable. 

Homeostasts* Claude Bernard's conception of a stable milieu 
interne has recently been developed by Cannon, who demonstrated 
that the body maintains a highly constant internal physicochemical 
state despite changing environments. Cannon writes: 

The constant conditions which are maintained in the body might 
be termed equilibria. That word, however, has come to have fairly 


exact meaning as applied to relatively simple physico-chemical states, 
in closed systems, where known forces are balanced. The coordi- 
nated physiological processes which maintain most of the steady 
states in the organism are so complex and so peculiar to living beings 
involving, as they may, the brain and nerves, the heart, lungs, kid- 
neys and spleen, all working cooperatively that I have suggested 
a special designation for these states, homeostasis. The word does 
not imply something set and immobile, a stagnation. It means a 
condition a condition which may vary, but which is relatively con- 

As examples of homeostasis Cannon has shown that the blood 
tends to maintain approximately constant percentages of water, salt, 
sugar, proteins, fat, and calcium. To keep the chemical constitu- 
tion of the blood constant it is necessary to have reserves in the 
tissues, and such reserves assuredly exist. The liver, for example, 
is a storehouse for sugar. For oxygen, however, an internal store- 
house does not exist, because normally an ample supply is available 
in the air. Upon this external supply the organism draws con- 
stantly to maintain a constant percentage of oxygen in the blood. 
Again, there are bodily mechanisms which regulate the hydrogen- 
ion concentration of the blood and keep it close to neutrality. Still 
another illustration of homeostasis is found in body temperature. 
In health, the heat-regulating mechanism of the body maintains 
a temperature that is stable to within a degree, despite changing 
environmental temperatures.* 

The principle of homeostasis is important in relation to bodily 
need. In the previous section it was stated that an organism must 
meet certain bodily needs in order to continue its existence. In the 
present section it is pointed out that the body fluids are remarkably 
stable chemically, and that the individual cells depend upon this 
constancy for their continued survival, taking up from the fluids 
those substances necessary for their nutritional wants. Thus, in the 
last analysis the maintaining of homeostasis is a process of meeting 
bodily needs. 

A knowledge of the principle of homeostasis is important in 

*For detailed consideration o the bodily mechanisms which maintain homeostasis, the 
reader is referred to Cannon's book, The Wisdom of the Body, New York: Norton. 1932. 


understanding behavior and the mechanisms which regulate it. 
As Rignano has said: 

Every organism is a physiological system in a stationary condi- 
tion and tends to preserve this condition or to restore it as soon 
as it is disturbed by any variation occurring within or outside the 
organism. This property constitutes the foundation and essence of 
all "needs," of all "desires," of all the most important appetites. 
All movements of approach or withdrawal, of attack or flight, of 
seizing or rejecting which animals make are only so many direct or 
indirect consequences of this very general tendency of every station- 
ary physiological condition to remain constant. . . . 

The same principle has been stressed by Raup in an interesting 
book upon complacency. Raup claims that the maintaining of 
equilibrium is the most basic principle, not of behavior alone, but 
of all life processes. Within every cell chemical equilibria are main- 
tained. Furthermore, there are equilibria between adjacent individ- 
ual cells, between groups of cells, between whole parts of the organ- 
ism, and groups of parts. When nervous processes are considered, 
for example, this principle of equilibrium between antithetical reac- 
tions is repeatedly met. It is seen in the antagonism between groups 
of muscles, such as the flexors and extensors of the &rm or leg, and 
in antagonistic reflexes such as the scratch reflex of the dog and 
the extensor thrust. The whole organism, indeed, depends for sur- 
vival upon its functioning parts, and the parts upon the whole. 
Within the organism there is a hierarchy of equilibria in which 
the most basic processes depend upon the most incidental for 
proper operation, and the latter upom the most basic. 

Raup has extended the principle of complacency to include be- 
havioral adjustments of organism to its environment. The organ- 
ism, in health, maintains a balance with its surroundings; this is the 
meaning of adjustment. Maladjustment, in Raup's opinion, is a dis- 
turbance of dynamic balance, equilibrium between organism and 
environment, or complacency. After such a disturbance, behavior 
shows a tendency toward a renewed complacency, or the restora- 
tion of equilibrium. Raup's hypothesis is very thought-provoking, 
presenting as it does an all-inclusive theory of motivation in terms 
of a tendency toward equilibrium. 

8 4 


Conclusion* The activity of living organisms can be analyzed 
into its component parts or treated as an integrated whole. The 
general level o integrated activity is shown outwardly by the total 
quantity of movement or else by the amount of work accomplished. 

Activity level and energy expenditure are basic conceptions. The 
conditions which regulate them must be given thorough considera- 
tion in a fundamental study of motivation. Some of these condi- 
tions are environmental, some intraorganic, some both. 

It is a basic physiological principle that organisms tend to main- 
tain approximately constant physical and chemical bodily states, 
and that they must succeed in doing so if the individual organism 
and the species are to have optimal conditions for survival. From 
this it follows that protoplasm needs certain substances and ener- 
gies from the environment. The evolutionary process has gradually 
developed bodily mechanisms well adapted to the satisfying of these 
needs. In maintaining homeostasis, drive plays a definite role. 

What is drive? In the physical sense, drive is the energy which 
makes the machine go. In the behavioral sense, drive is goal- 
oriented behavior, or else the general level of activity whether pur- 
posive or not. In the physiological sense, drive is a tissue condition 
which gives rise to persistent stimulation, or else drive is the persist- 
ent stimulus (drive stimulus) itself. In the strictly psychological 
sense, drive is a motivating factor of personality such as a wish, 
purpose, ideal which regulates and directs one's conduct. Human 
and animal activity contains countless goals and hence innumerable 
drives. The examination of the most basic animal drives will be 
undertaken in the next two chapters. 


The studies upon activity which were cited in the present chapter are included 
in the following list. A number of closely related references have been added. 

1. BOUSFIELD, W. A., Certain quantitative aspects of the food-behavior of cats. 

/. Gen. PsychoL, 1933, 8, 446-454. 

2. BOUSFIELD^ W. A. Certain quantitative aspects of chickens' behavior towards 

food. Arner. /. PsychoL, 1934, 46, 456-458. 

3. HOSKINS, R. G. Studies on vigor (II), the effect of castration on voluntary 

activity. Amer. /. PhysioL, 1925, 72, 324-330. 

4. HOSKINS, R. G. Studies on vigor (IV), the effect of testicle grafts on spon- 

taneous activity. EndocrinoL, 1925, 9, 277-296. Studies on vigor (VI), the 


effect of starvation on the spontaneous activity of castrated rats, EndocrinoL, 
1925, 9, 403-406. 

5. HOSKINS, R. G. The tides of life, the endocrine glands in bodily adjustment. 

New York: Norton, 1933. Pp. 352. 

6. NICHOLLS, E. E. A study of the spontaneous activity of the guinea pig. 

/. Comp. PsychoL, 1922, 2, 303-330. 

7. RICHTER, C. P. A behavioristic study of the activity of the rat. Comp. PsychoL 

Monog., 1922, i, No. 2. Pp. 55. 

8. RICHTER, C. P. Animal behavior and internal drives. Quart. Rev. Bio/., 1927, 

2, 307-343. 

9. RICHTER, C. P. Biological foundation of personality differences. Amer. J. 

Orthopsychiat., 1932, 2, 345-354- 

10. RICHTER, C. P. The role played by the thyroid gland in the production of 

gross body activity. EndocrinoL, 1933,- 17, 73-87. 

11. RICHTER, C. P. The effect of early gonadectomy on the gross body activity 

of rats. EndocrinoL, 1933, 17, 445-450. 

12. SHIRLEY, M. Studies of activity, consistency of the revolving drum method of 

measuring the activity of the rat. /. Comp. PsychoL, 1928, 8, 23-38. Studies 
of activity, activity rhythms, age and activity, activity after rest. Ibid,, 159- 
186. Studies of activity, the relation of activity to maze learning and to brain 
weight. Ibid., 187-195. 

13. SHIRLEY, M. Spontaneous activity. PsychoL Bull., 1929, 26, 341-365. 

14. SKINNER, B. F. On the conditions of elicitation of certain eating reflexes. 

Proc. Nat. Acad. Set., 1930, 16, 433-438. 

15. SKINNER, B. F. The concept of the reflex in the description of behavior. /. 

Gen. PsychoL, 1931, 5, 427-458. 

16. SKINNER, B. F. Drive and reflex strength. /. Gen. PsychoL, 1932, 6, 22-37, 


17. SKINNER, B. F. The measurement of "spontaneous activity.'* /. Gen. PsychoL, 

i933 9 3-24- 

18. WADA, T. An experimental study of hunger in its relation to activity. Arch. 

PsychoL, 1922, 8, No. 57. Pp. 65. 

19. WANG, G. H. The relation between "spontaneous" activity and oestrous cycle 

in the white rat. Comp. PsychoL Monog., 1923, 2, No. 6. Pp. 27. 

20. WEVER, E. G. Water temperature as an incentive to swimming activity in the 

rat. /. Comp. PsychoL, 1932, 14, 219-224. 

In addition to the references upon energetics and the doctrine of drive 
dynamic psychologies written by MacCurdy, McDougall, Moore, and Woodworth 
have been added to the following list; also a critical paper by Bentley et al. 

21. ADRIAN, E. D: The conception of nervous and mental energy. Brit. ]. PsychoL, 

1923, 14, 121-125. 

22. ANDERSON, E. E. The interrelationship of drives in the male albino rat. Doc- 

toral thesis, Univ. of Illinois, 1934. 


23. BARRETT, E. B. Motive-force and motivation traces, a research in will psychology. 

London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1911. Pp. xiv -f 225. 

24. BAYLISS, W. M. Principles of general physiology. London: Longmans, Green, 

and Co., 1918. Pp. xxiv 4- 858. (See the second chapter, upon energetics [27- 
47], for discussion of the physical and chemical view of vital processes.) 

25. BENTLEY, M., et al. Dynamical principles in recent psychology. Psychol. 

Monog., 1921, 30, No. 136. Pp. 1 6. 

26. HOLT, E. B. Animal drive and the learning process, an essay toward radical 

empiricism. New York: Holt, 1931. Pp. vii -f 307. 

27. JUNG, C. G. Contributions to analytical psychology. New York: Harcourt, 

Brace and Co., 1928. Pp. xi -f 410. (See the section on psychical energy, 
pp. 1-76.) 

28. LASHLEY, K. S. Contributions of Freudism to psychology. Psychol. Rev., 1924, 

31, 192-202. 

29. LEUBA, C. J. Some comments on the first reports of the Columbia study of 

animal drives. /. Comp. Psychol., 1931, u, 275-279. 

30. MAcCuRDY, J. T. Problems in dynamic psychology, a critique of psychoanalysis 

and suggested formulations. New York: Macmillan, 1923. Pp. xv + 383. 

31. McDouGALL, W. The energies of men, a study of the fundamentals of dynamic 

psychology. New York: Scribner, 1933. Pp. xii + 395. 

32. MOORE, T. V. Dynamic psychology, an introduction to modern psychological 

theory and practice. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1924. Pp. viii -f 444. 

33. Moss, F. A. Study of animal drives. /. Exper. Psychol. , 1924, 7, 165-185. 

34. WARDEN, C. J. Animal motivation, experimental studies on the albino rat. New 

York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1931. Pp. xii + 502. 

35. WOODWORTH, R. S. Dynamic psychology. New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 

1918. Pp. 5 p.l. -f- 210. 

References cited upon bodily need and homeostasls follow: 

36. CANNON, W. B. The wisdom of the body. New York: Norton, 1932. Pp. 312. 

37. RAUP, R. -B. Complacency, the foundation of human behavior. New York: 

Macmillan, 1925. Pp. xii + 201. 

38. RIGNANO, E. The psychology of reasoning. New York: Harcourt, Brace and 

Co., 1923. Pp. viii -f 395. 


"The fact is that in all experiments upon animals, whether to deter- 
mine their power of distinguishing stimuli or their power of learning 
by experience, the first requisite is to give the animal what we com- 
monly call a motive" 


The experimental investigation of motivation has been carried 
further in the field of animal behavior than in any other branch 
of psychology. Why study the motivation of animals ? All the care- 
ful, detailed work with the white rat may appear trivial and irrele- 
vant to the layman who thinks of psychology only in terms of 
human values. 

The question needs a moment of serious consideration. For one 
thing, man himself is an animal, and human behavior is to a large 
extent determined in the same manner as that of the other animals. 
The basic forms of motivation hunger, thirst, the sexual urge, the 
maternal and exploratory drives, and so on are common to man 
and brute. Just as the biologist studies growth, metabolism, respira- 
tion, reproduction, and many other processes not in the human 
species alone, but wherever they occur in nature, so the psychologist 
studies behavior and its determinants wherever the processes can 
be found. The truly scientific background and perspective for un- 
derstanding human conduct are found in the study of the world of 
fact in the rich realm of animal behavior. 

But there is a more practical reason for investigating motivation 
in animals. A great many researches upon sexual motivation, hun- 
ger, the effects of electrical shock, isolation, maternal behavior, and 
other fundamental problems can be carried on readily with animals 
which would be impracticable, taboo, or even harmful if conducted 
with human subjects. Surgical operations, carefully carried out with 
animals, involve risks of life which make such procedures wholly 




out of the question in human research. Again, animal subjects can 
readily be obtained in large numbers, the conditions of an experi- 
ment can be rigorously controlled from birth to death, and ani- 
mals can be depended upon to keep their laboratory appointments! 
All these considerations favor the use of animal subjects for much 
psychological investigation. 

This does not mean that work with human subjects should be 
neglected. The complete picture of motivational psychology is one 
in which man and animal are shown side by side, with their simi- 
larities or differences pointed out. 

The investigations of animal and human motivation are at all 
points interrelated. The basic biological motivations are well 
adapted to Investigation in the animal laboratory. The specifically 
human and the social forms of motivation such as craving for pres- 
tige, interests, desires, ideals, special hobbies, the incentives of praise, 
reproof, prizes, and so forth, can be studied to the best advantage 
with human subjects. Some of the latter forms of motivation 
scarcely exist at all on the level of brute behavior. 


The following study of experimental methods is limited to those 
used for the investigation of animal motivation. Distinctively hu- 
man methods involving the use of mental tests, verbal instructions, 
psychoanalytical procedures, the control of social environments, 
e.g., by the use of praise, rivalry, reward, and other incentives, are 
ignored here. They will be considered in later chapters. 

A Classification of Methods. The methods employed in the 
study of animal motivation may be conveniently grouped as fol- 

I. Activity methods (observing behavior with a view to discover- 
ing its causation). 

A. Field observations of behavior (migration, hibernation, 
mating, food-hunting, etc.). 

B. Laboratory observations upon: 

i. Specific activities (nesting, eating, drinking, urinating, 
defecating, nursing the young, preening, etc.), observed 
with various special forms of apparatus. 


2. General activity level as observed with activity apparatus 

(rotating drum for running; stationary activity cage). 
II. Counterbalance of motives (arousing in the animal at the same 
time two opposed determinations). 

A. The method of choice (opposing two different drives). 

B. The method of preference (inciting the same drive with 
two simultaneous goal objects). 

C. The obstruction method* (interposing an obstacle, such as 
an electric grill, between animal and goal). 

III. Contrast of motives (arousing different determinations one at 
a time, and comparing the results). 

A. Methods maintaining a constant motivation throughout an 
experiment the learning method, utilizing rewards or 

B. Methods introducing a shift of motivation during the 
course of an experiment. 

1. With completely learned activities. 

2. During learning. 

3. With unlearned activities. 

There are various other procedures which have been, or can be, 
combined with any of the above methods. One of these is the use 
of surgical operations (e.g., removing a gland, or a part of the 
brain). Another is the experimental control of environmental con- 
ditions, both physical (e.g., temperature, movement of air) and social 
(presence of a companion or mate). Still another is the control of 
internal facilitating and inhibiting conditions by the use of drugs, 
variations in diet, etc. 

The methods outlined above will now be considered in detail, 
with descriptions of the kinds of apparatus used and, in some cases, 
with a presentation of typical experimental results. These results, 
where given, should be considered, not only as illustrative of a 
method, but also for what they teach concerning motivation. 

I. Activity Methods. Field observations upon the free and 
unrestrained activities of animals have thrown light upon motivat- 

* Various kinds of obstructions have been interposed between animal and goal object. For 
example, a wall to be climbed, a detour, a maze to be learned, an enforced delay, a runway 
to be traversed, an electric grill to be crossed all can be regarded as obstructions or ob- 
stacles to the goal-directed behavior of an animal. 


ing conditions. These observations have revealed periodical and 
seasonal changes. The migration of birds, the hibernation o ground- 
dweEing animals, seasonal breeding, cycles of feeding and elimina- 
tionthese and similar activities call for explanation in terms of 
the causal factors involved. 

In the laboratory the "spontaneous" behavior of animals has been 
observed with carefully controlled conditions. In the preceding 
chapter the more important types of apparatus and laboratory meth- 
ods used in studies of the activity level were described in detail, 
and typical results presented. No further space need be given here 
to the activity methods. An account of the remaining methods is 
given below, 

IL Counterbalance of Motives* In the study of animal mo- 
tivation one general method has been to bring two incompatible 
determinations into direct opposition in order to compare their 
relative strengths. Three forms of this method are described in 

A. The Method of Choice. The choice method may be 
illustrated by reference to the work of Tsai, in which sex and hun- 
ger motivation were opposed. 

His apparatus, shown in Fig. 
21, consists of two goal-boxes, A 
and B, at the sides of an entrance 
alley, E. From E the path bifur- 
cates into x and y alleys. From x 
a path leads in the direction of the 
arrows to A, and from y another 
leads to B. The walls of the goal- 
boxes facing alleys x and y are 
made of wire mesh, so the animals 
can sense the contents of each. 
Doors, D and D', can be closed by 
the experimenter to prevent the 
animal from retracing his path, and other doors, d and d\ serve to 
keep the mate confined. 

In Tsai's experiment two groups of male rats were used. To 
one group were presented food in B and a mate in A; the other 









+ y 



x . 





OF CHOICE. (After Tsai.) 


group was presented food in A and a mate in B. For two weeks 
prior to the main tests the animals were given some food in one 
compartment every other day, and on alternate days they were 
allowed to remain half an hour with a receptive female in the other 
compartment. In this preliminary work the rats came to associate 
food and mate with particular compartments of the apparatus. 
After habituation the experimental tests were commenced. 

With a twenty-four-hour food-deprivation period a rat was placed 
in the entrance alley and offered a choice between food and recep- 
tive female. Each rat was given five choices per day. When an 
animal entered a given compartment the door was closed immedi- 
ately to prevent retracing, and he was allowed one or two minutes 
in the goal-box. 

Results of the experiment are briefly as follows. Group I (nine 
rats) selected food in 78 per cent of the trials and the female in 22 
per cent. Group II (ten rats) selected food in 76 per cent of the 
trials and the female in 24 per cent. The similarity of the findings 
for the two groups indicates that position-habit played a relatively 
small role in the choices. Tsai concluded that the hunger motive 
(twenty-four-hour) is stronger than the sex motive in the albino 
rat, as measured by the method of choice. 

One difficulty with the method lies in the control of physiological 
conditions. Sexual urge and food hunger are both complex; the 
compound state presupposed by the choice experiment is doubly 
complex. For one thing, sexual motivation is known to be weak- 
ened by hunger (pp. 146-147), and by certain emotional conditions. 
These and other complications make it difficult to control the physi- 
ological state of the animals quantitatively. 

B. The Method of Preference. The preference method, 
like the foregoing one, is beyond doubt based upon choosing; but 
whereas Tsai's method of choice involves two basic drives (sex and 
hunger), the preference method is commonly limited to a choice 
between goal objects which arouse one and the same drive. 

The author's apparatus for studying food preferences is dia- 
grammed in Fig. 22. It consists of a starting box, B, connected by 
a single plank, R, which serves as a runway, to the wire-mesh feed- 
ing plate, P. A sliding door, D, controls the exit of an animal from 
B to P. Placed in the central opening of the feeding plate are two 


glass tubes leveled off to the top with foodstuffs. The entire appara- 
tus is surrounded by an opaque screen, S, except for a small window 
through which the experimenter at E observes the rat's behavior. 
At the start of an experiment a rat is placed in the starting box. 
When the tubes of foods are in place the door is raised and the 
animal is free to come to the food. As soon as he makes contact 
with one food-substance the critical observation commences. The 

rat is given a fixed time in which 
to eat one to four seconds in our 
experiments, at the close of which 
the food tubes are promptly low- 
ered out of reach beneath the 
feeding plate. The rat is trained 
to return to his box, and the door 
is closed after him by the experi- 
menter. Immediately the tubes 
are interchanged in position by 
the i8o-degree rotation of a small, 
central turn-table. The foods are 
again leveled off, and the door 
opened to admit the rat for the 
next trial. When the rats were 
habituated to the apparatus, and 
if the two foods being used in- 
cluded something they liked, 
they would run through a long 
series of trials rapidly, making 
as many as sixty choices in 
FIG. 22. APPARATUS FOR THE STUDY OF twenty minutes. The technique 

Fooi> PREFERENCES. i i n- r .1 

involves no handling of the ani- 
mal during the fifteen- or twenty-minute observation period. 

This procedure gives a continuous series of preferential discrimi- 
nations between two test foods. By pairing a selected group of foods 
in all possible combinations a preferential series for the rat can be 
worked out. Results of the method are described on pp. 109-113.* 

* A preference method was formerly used by Vitus Graber and others to study the organism's 
ability to discriminate between different stimuli. Washburn has pointed out that for the study 
of discrimination the method is faulty. Although preference presupposes an ability to discrim- 



Certain variations of these methods utilize several conflicting 
motives. Harlow, for example, performed a preference experiment 
in which rats were given a free choice among four kinds of food 
presented simultaneously, in the four corners of a compartment. 



An electrical grill of two plates (BB) is interposed between the animal (A) and the 
goal (C). 

C. The Obstruction Method. In his study upon drives. 
Moss used an apparatus of the type diagrammed in Fig. 23. The 
animal was placed in one compartment (A) and the goal object in 
another (C). For the animal to reach the goal it was necessary for 
him to cross the plates at BB and receive an electric shock. The 
voltage of the current was controlled by a transformer. 


This type of apparatus has been much improved, and standard- 
ized, by Jenkins and Warden. The ground plan of their Columbia 
University obstruction apparatus is given in Fig. 24. A is the en- 
trance compartment in which the rat is placed; B is the obstruc- 
tion compartment, which has an electric grill on the floor; C and 
D together constitute an incentive compartment. The goal object 

inate, it is quite possible for this ability to be present where a preference does not exist. 
However, for the study of preferences per se, the preference method is the only form available, 
and when used with careful control of conditions is free from the objections formerly raised 
against it. 


food, water, mate, etc. is kept in D. Doors at di 9 d^ and d& are 
used to control the movements of the animal in the apparatus. 
The door at di is kept closed Until the experimenter is ready to 
begin an observation. A hinged release plate, E, automatically oper- 
ates the door at rfs, thus liberating the mate from D in experiments 
with sexual motivation. 

In a more recent form of the apparatus, compartment D has been 
dropped, and glass plates are used so that the behavior of the ani- 
mal is clearly visible from the side rather than from above. An 
electrical unit for precise control of the current in the grill has been 

The Columbia apparatus has been used extensively by Warden 
and his collaborators in studies which will be referred to later. The 
experimenters have demonstrated that crossing the grill is a valid 
indication of the presence as well as a measure of the strength of 
hunger, thirst, sex, and other drives. Repeated crossing of the grill 
by the rat does not occur in the absence of a motivating bodily 
state, nor in the absence of its appropriate goal object. 

In recording results every crossing of the grill, contact with it, or 
approach to it was originally counted. It now appears that the fre- 
quency of crossings per unit time is a sufficient measure. The statis- 
tical reliability of these measures was determined for the different 
drives by making retests. 

When a rat is placed in the obstruction apparatus he is con- 
fronted with a goal but the direct path leads across the charged 
grill. A conflict is thus established in the animal between the urge 
to attain the goal and the drive to avoid the electric shock, and the 
relative strength of the two motives is measured by the frequency 
with which the rat crosses the grill in a twenty-minute period. If a 
drive is sufficiently potent, a rat will cross the grill and take the 
shock; and it is assumed that the more intense the drive the more 
frequently will he cross per unit period. 

Regarding the method Warden writes: "The behavior of the 
test animal must result from some sort of balancing of the positive 
influence of the incentive and the negative effect of the obstruction. 
The two factors are so interpenetrated in their actual operation 
that it is difficult if not impossible to evaluate them independently 
in a satisfactory manner/' 



One difficulty with the obstruction method is this : as the animals 
become adapted to the shock it furnishes less and less resistance to 
a given drive. The electrical obstruction is physically constant,^ but 
in terms of behavior it is a variable. In other words, the drive being 
tested is measured with a somewhat elastic yardstick. 

Goal A 



The above forms of the counterbalance-of-motives method can 
be represented schematically, borrowing Lewin's conception of posi- 
tive and negative valence, as in Figs. 25 and 26. In the method of 
choice the rat is placed between two goal objects both of which 
have for the animal a positive valence. See Fig. 25. In one of Moss's 
experiments the choice was between two negatives: remaining in 




ice water or crossing a charged grill. In the method of preference 
the diagram is the same. It is true that, in the writer's preference 
set-up, the test foods are very close together in space, but the prin- 
ciple of choice is the same as in Tsai's experiment. 

In the obstruction method the goal object has a positive valence, 
but the direct path is over a grill with negative valence* See Fig. 
26. This arrangement of valences holds good for all studies by the 
Columbia obstruction method. 


A general difficulty with all methods in which counterbalance 
of motives is used lies in the interaction of the motives each upon 
the other. Thus, in discussing the method of choice it was brought 
out that hunger weakened the competing sexual motivation (see 
p* 91). Similarly, with the method now under discussion, the fear 
of the grill, a pain-avoidance reaction, tends to inhibit the bodily 
processes of hunger, as Cannon and others have shown. Thus the 
very motivation which the method aims to measure is weakened or 
destroyed. Despite this difficulty, the counterbalancing of motives 
has yielded consistent and highly significant results. 

An interesting class-room demonstration based upon the obstruc- 
tion method can be made with the apparatus shown in Plate III. 
In this demonstration a horizontal metal tank with a glass front is 
placed on the lecture table, (See the lower view.) A rat, previously 
trained to cross the uncharged grill and reach the food, is intro- 
duced at the left. After the rat has crossed the grill and nibbled 
at the food he is lifted back for another trial. This is repeated a 
time or so. 

Now the stage is set for observing the initial effect of introducing 
the electric charge and for studying the process of the building up 
of inhibitions. The strength of the charge is regulated by the vari- 
able resistance coil shown in the upper view.* In giving a demon- 
stration the first shock used is very weak. This is likely to make 
no apparent difference in the rat's crossing behavior. However, 
when the trials are repeated with a gradually increasing strength 
of current, the avoiding responses to the charged grill become more 
and more apparent. It is easy to see that as the charge is increased 
the rat becomes more and more inhibited in his urge to reach the 
food and eventually ceases to cross. He finally stays, as if afraid, to 
the left of the charged grill, possibly approaching or contacting the 
grill but not crossing over. 

Ill- Contrast of Motives. The above methods are based upon 
a counterbalancing of motives. Another group of methods utilize 
various motivating factors one at a time, contrasting the varying 

*The no-volt alternating current is passed through this variable resistance and through 
a scries of three carbon-filament lamps. The grill is on a shunt which commences before 
and terminates just after the variable resistance. 






results in behavior. The commonest form is known as the learning 

A* The Learning Method. In most of the experimental litera- 
ture upon animal learning, motivation is viewed merely as a means 
to an end. There is, however, a considerable and rapidly growing 
body of literature concerned primarily with the effectiveness of 
various kinds of motivation in inducing learning. In the investiga- 
tions to throw light upon motivation for its own sake, different 
kinds and combinations of incentives, and varying intensities of 
the same incentive, have been studied. The experiment of Simmons 
is an excellent example (p. 297). 

Another illustration is found in a brief study by Stone and 
Sturman-Huble in which two groups of rats were trained to run 
the maze. One group was motivated by food hunger and the other 
by sex hunger. The writers concluded tentatively that with one- 
year-old male rats food and mate were approximately equal as in- 
centives to maze learning. It is clear from other work, however, 
that the truth or falsity of this conclusion depends wholly upon 
the degree of hunger and upon the strength of the sex urge. 

Since most of the experiments upon punishment and reward 
(pp. 278-306) illustrate the study of motivation by the learning 
method, no further examples need be given here. 

B. The Shift-of-Motlvatlon Method. A variation of the 
learning method is found in the work of Elliott, in which the mo- 
tivation was suddenly shifted during the course of learning. 

His rats were given one trial per animal daily in a maze. One 
group of animals was rewarded with sunflower seeds throughout 
the entire learning period. The other group was rewarded with 
bran mash for the first nine days of the experiment, and on the 
tenth and succeeding days the reward was changed to sunflower 
seeds. The first group served as a control, and the second as an ex- 
perimental group to study the effect of a shift of motivation. 

The error curves are shown in Fig. 27. Ordinates give the average 
number of errors for each group; abscissae mark successive days 
of the experiment 

The figure indicates that the experimental group learned more 
quickly than the control group until the tenth day. When the re- 



ward was changed on the tenth and following days, the number 
of errors increased markedly beyond that of the control group. 
Elliott interprets this result in human terms by saying that the rats 
expected a specific reward rather than mere satisfaction of hunger 
and that the strangeness and startle resulting from finding a new 
kind of food explain the poor performance after day ten. 

10 T 


\ 5 


- Experimental group 
~ Sunflower seed control 

Change of reward 

I + 

1 23 4 567 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 


The dash-line shows -Ac error curve for the control group of rats, which learned the 
maze with a reward of sunflower seeds. The solid line gives the error curve for the ex- 
perimental group. At X the reward was changed from bran mash to sunflower seeds. 

It is likely also that bran mash would rate higher than sunflower 
seeds in a direct preference test In any case, Simmons' experiment 
gave sunflower seeds a relatively low rating (p. 297). One can, of 
course, argue directly from Elliott's curves during the first nine 
days, that since the bran mash brought quicker learning than the 
sunflower seeds, it is the more preferred of the two. The writer has 
repeatedly observed that the more preferred of two foods gives the 
quicker learning. It is regrettable that Elliott did not carry along a 
third group of rats which was first fed on sunflower seeds and 



changed on the tenth day to bran mash. Such a group would have 
shown the relative importance of the two factors contributing to the 
rise in the error curve: (i) the disturbance occasioned by changing 
the reward, and (2) the relative preferredness, to rats, of the two 
foods used. 

Another illustration of the method in which incentives are shifted 
is found in an unpublished experiment performed at the University 
of Illinois by Seymour Stein under the writer's supervision. 

A ground plan of the apparatus is presented in Fig. 28. It con- 
sists of two feeding boxes connected by a runway. At the ends of 
the apparatus are two food cups which can be lowered through 
the floor out of reach of the rat. The cups are arranged on a teeter- 

The explanation is in the text, 

totter device so that when one is up the other is down, and vice 
versa. When a food cup is moving downward, the opening in the 
floor closes automatically, to prevent the animal from reaching the 
food through the hole. The floor is made of wire mesh so that food 
will drop through, if spilled. 

In using the apparatus a rat was permitted to eat out of a cup for 
five seconds; then the food was removed. By running to the other 
feeding box the rat again had opportunity to eat for five seconds. 
Each rat was observed for exactly fifteen minutes daily, and the 
number of runs per minute was tallied.f 

The plan of the experiment was to train an animal to the limit 

* The boxes are 7% inches square; the connecting runway is 10 inches long; the food 
cups have an inside diameter of 1 1 A inches. 

t Some difficulty was experienced by a tendency of the rats to fill their paws with food 
just before the cup was removed, and then to continue eating for a number of seconds after 
the lowering of the cup, before crossing over to the other food box. This behavior, unfor- 
tunately, introduced aa uncontrolled factor into the results, by reducing in some cases the 
number of crossings per fifteen-minute period. 



of practice with a given food incentive, and then suddenly to shift 
to another food of known preferential rating. It was found, in 
general, that foods which had rated relatively high when tested by 
the preference technique, produced more crossings per fifteen- 
minute period than foods relatively low on the preferential scale. 








Ordinates give number of runs per fifteen-minute period; abscissae give successive days. 
Shading on days 21-25 indicates use of butterfat as an incentive. On other days the regular 
diet was used. 

Figure 29 presents graphically the results of one series for three 
male rats. These animals ran the apparatus on the first twenty days 
with the standard laboratory diet as an incentive. On days 21 to 
25, inclusive, pure butterfat was substituted for the dietary mixture. 
On days 26 and 27 the standard diet was again presented. After each 
daily series throughout the experiment the animals were individ- 
ually given a measured ration of the standard diet and returned to 
the living cage. 


Figure 29 shows: (i) An Initial increase in the number of runs 
per day as the rats learned to run the apparatus. The approximate 
limit of practice was reached in about fifteen days. (2) An abrupt de- 
cline in the activity level when butterfat was substituted for the 
regular diet. In a previous study butterfat was shown to have a rela- 
tively low preferential rating whereas the dietary mixture stood 
considerably higher in the scale. (3) An abrupt rise in activity to its 
earlier high level when the standard diet was again used as an 

Entirely in harmony with these results were those obtained in 
another experiment in which six rats individually showed a marked 
drop in the activity level when ordinary flour was substituted for 
fresh milk as the reward. Milk was previously found to be decidedly 
preferred to flour in our direct preference test. 

An interesting finding in connection with this work is that the 
activity level gradually lowers as an animal approaches satiation. 
Runs were tallied for three successive five-minute periods. With 
ground whole wheat as a reward, a group of three rats gave the 
following total number of crossings for a period of fifteen consecu- 
tive days: 

Total Number of Crossings on the Food-Incentive Apparatus 
During a Fifteen-Minute Period 

First 5 minutes 
893 crossings 

Second 5 minutes 
644 crossings 

Third 5 minutes 
577 crossings 

These activity gradients, or satiation curves, vary with the kind of 
food, the apparatus used, the degree of hunger, and other condi- 

As a final illustration of the shift-of -motivation method brief refer- 
ence is made to Wever's investigation upon the rate of swimming 
in relation to water temperature. He placed rats in a tank of water, 
the temperature of which he varied from time to time. With each 
temperature he measured the rate of swimming (see pp. 61-63 for 
fuller details). 

Swimming, in the rat, is an unlearned activity. When an animal, 


for the first time in his life, is placed in water he swims almost 
immediately. He may stretch out his legs helplessly for a few sec- 
onds, but after that he swims effectively. 

Obviously, all these experimental methods have one feature in 
common: the deliberate shifting of motivating conditions in the 
course of an experiment for the purpose of contrasting their effec- 
tiveness. Whether the shift is made with a learned activity, an 
unlearned activity, or during the process of learning, is secondary 
to the main feature: the shift of motivation to study the effect of 
the shift upon behavior. 


An organism lives only when it can obtain food, water, air, free- 
dom from trauma, moderate temperature, rest, sleep, etc. A species 
continues only when reproduction is possible. Some of the types of 
behavior which serve the biologically fundamental ends are con- 
sidered in the following sections.* 


The Bodily Basis of the Hunger Pang. In a well-known 
experiment Cannon and Washburn have described the conscious 
hunger pang in the following words : "... a dull ache or gnawing 
sensation referred to the lower mid-chest region and the epigastrium. 
It is the organism's first strong demand for nutriment, and, not 
satisfied, is likely to grow into a highly uncomfortable pang, less 
definitely localized as it becomes more intense." 

This pang occurs simultaneously with stomach contractions, as 
the work of Cannon and Washburn, Carlson, Wada, and others has 
shown. The method commonly used to record gastric hunger con- 
tractions in the human subject is pictured in Fig. 30. During an ex- 
periment the subject trains himself to swallow a tube to which is 
attached a rubber balloon. When in the stomach the balloon is 
inflated, and then the tube is connected to an apparatus which gives 
a graphic record. The subject presses upon a signal key whenever 
he experiences a hunger pang. 

This experiment is interesting because it demonstrates a correla- 

* In the following pages those sections which arc printed in solid blocks may be omitted 
without loss of the main line of thought. They deal with details of animal research. 



tion between the . conscious hunger and Its bodily counterpart. The 
hunger experienced by the subject is assumed to depend upon the 
gastric contractions. 

Physiologists have distinguished hunger from "appetite." The term 
"appetite" was used by them because of a need to explain several 
well-recognized (although psychologically heterogeneous) facts 

A is a kymograph record of the increase and decrease of air pressure within the gastric 
balloon, B. C is a time record in minutes. D is a record of the conscious hunger pangs 
experienced by the subject. E is a record from a pneumograph placed around the subject's 
waist to show that hunger contractions are independent of the respiratory movements of 
the abdominal wall. 

which were not included within the concept of hunger. Among 
these facts are: (a) that previous experience with the taste and smell 
of a food modifies one's liking or disliking for it; () that one eats 
candies and other dainties "to please the palate" even when not 
hungry; (c) that the conditions under which food is served table 
linen, silver, guests, etc. modify one's liking or disliking; (d) that 
the anticipated pleasure of eating depends upon a different motiva- 
tion from the pain of hunger. 

In Cannon's recent book. The Wisdom of the Body, is a statement 
that ". . . the person beset by an appetite is tempted, not driven, to 
action he seeks satisfaction, not relief." But he adds: "It is not to 
be supposed that the two motivating agencies the pang and the 


pleasure are as separate as we have been regarding them for pur- 
poses of analysis in the present discussion." 

Again, Carlson has pointed out that man may eat from habit or 
from a sense of duty, in the absence of both hunger and appetite. 
This statement seems to imply several determiners of eating 
hunger, appetite, habit, sense of duty. 

The physiological conception of appetite as one of the factors 
which regulate the process of food-taking has never been clearly 
defined. Mursell has made the valuable suggestion that food-seeking 
behavior be regarded as a unit which depends upon a variety of 
factors. If we ask, "What are the factors which regulate the inges- 
tion of food?" the following desultory list can be offered as a partial 
answer: (i) the immediate excitation of the sensory receptors, espe- 
cially in the organs of taste, smell, and touch (including tempera- 
ture); (2) pleasantness or unpleasantness experienced in eating 
certain foods; (3) special cravings and aversions for foodstuffs (con- 
sidered below); (4) previous conditioning to specific foods; (5) 
general metabolic state of the organism as determined by the previ- 
ous diet, state of health, etc.; (6) gastric hunger contractions and the 
associated energy releases; (7) environmental conditions social 
and non-social; (8) sense of duty and similar mental determinants. 
All these points might well be expanded. 

Free-Choice Feeding Experiments. Countless years before 
the scientific study of nutrition, animals selected their diets from 
the available food supply and for the most part grew, reproduced, 
and maintained themselves in health. The view that an animal is 
able to select a diet adequate to its bodily needs when given a free 
choice among a variety of foods is supported also by experimental 
evidence. From an extensive literature several examples are cited. 

Evvard* gave pigs a free choice among a variety of foods and 
found that they selected a diet adequate to their bodily needs and 
gained rapidly in weight. He states: "The appetite of the pig appears 
to be a very good guide as to bodily needs; hitherto the apparent 
reliability of the appetite has not been duly appreciated." Incidentally 
he noted that the food preferences of the pig changed as growth 
altered its needs. 

Kevins gave dairy cows opportunity to select their own rations 

* The material in this and the following section has been taken from the author's paper, 
Food Preferences and the Regulation of Eating, q.v. for references to the studies cited. 


and found that they tended to eat more than enough to meet their 
requirements for maintenance and milk production; that they laid 
on additional weight. Food preferences of the cows, he observed, 
changed frequently and decidedly; no two animals exhibited exactly 
the same preferences for all foods; there were sudden variations in 
the relative preferences for certain food substances. 

Price offered chickens a choice between three kinds of butter: (i) 
butter high in vitamins A and D, (2) butter high in A but low in 
D, (3) butter low in both A and D, He found that the chickens 
ate the greatest quantities of the first food which, of course, is the 
most adequate to meet their bodily needs. He does not know how 
the foods were discriminated, for to the human observer the flavor 
and odor gave no clue, and the containers, which were of the same 
size and shape, were shifted in position frequently and in a hap- 
hazard manner. 

In the careful studies by Osborne and Mendel, and by Mitchell 
and Mendel, rats and mice were given a choice between adequate 
and inadequate diets. The animals selected the diets which were the 
most favorable to growth. Osborne and Mendel noted that the 
"desire of a young animal for food is something more than the mere 
satisfaction of its calorific needs. The demand made by the growth 
impulse must also be met by a food of the proper chemical constitu- 

Davis performed a self-feeding experiment on three newly weaned 
infants, eight to ten months of age. Two of the babies were allowed 
to select their diet for six months and one for a year. A variety of 
raw or plainly cooked foods was used. Foods were presented in sauce 
dishes of standard size and liquids in glasses on the tray. The infant 
was permitted to eat with his fingers or in any way he could with- 
out correction of his manners, and was given free choice of foods. 
Arrangement of the foods on the tray was presumably haphazard. 
Davis writes that the infants "were able from the first to select their 
own foods from a list of simple natural ones and in quantities suf- 
ficient to maintain themselves with apparently optimal digestive 
and good (so far as immediate results could be judged) nutritional 
results. They were omnivorous and in eating were governed not 
only by their caloric needs, but showed definite preferences, which 
however, changed from time to time and were unpredictable." 
The experimenter does not know what influenced the initial choices 



of the infants but, "There could be no question, however, that after 
the first few meals the foods wanted were promptly recognized and 
chosen, as they were reached for without hesitation no matter what 
was their location on the tray, others nearer at hand and brighter in 
color often being neglected. Each infant in the beginning chose some 
foods which, after he had gotten them into the mouth, he spat out. 
Later, this did not happen." The infants slept well, were sound, 
happy, energetic, full of "pep," and gained in weight more rapidly 
than the average gain specified by the Children's Bureau for this 
growth period. According to the report one child had rickets at the 
start of the experiment; he selected cod liver oil regularly, and when 
cured no longer took it. "A tendency was observed in all infants to 
eat certain foods in waves, i.e., after eating cereals, eggs, meats or 
fruits, in small or moderate amounts for a number of days, there 
would follow a period of a week or longer in which a particular 
food or class of foods was eaten in larger and larger quantities until 
astonishingly large amounts were taken; after this, the quantities 
would decline to the previous level." In the diet kitchen such waves 
were known as "egg jags, 55 "meat jags," "cereal jags," etc. Dr. Davis 
presents graphs to illustrate these waves. The graphs should be com- 
pared with the curves presented by Evvard, Nevins, and others, and 
with the writer's curves of preferential trend (p. 112), 

Although the above experiments upon free-choice animal feeding 
have been carried out in the field of nutrition rather than psychol- 
ogy, they nevertheless reveal principles which are important to the 
student of hunger motivation. They show that animals and infants 
are able to select adequate diets, if the necessary supply of foods 
is at hand. The studies further demonstrate the intimate relation 
between food preferences and nutritional needs. 

Cravings and Aversions for Foods* In the discussion of 
homeostasis it was pointed out that an organism maintains a rela- 
tively constant internal state, and to do this, requires water, salts, 
proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and vitamins. A deficiency of some 
essential substance in the diet, and hence in the tissues, may cause 
a specific craving to appear. The case of water deficiency and thirst 
is an obvious illustration. 

Another example is salt hunger, which has been described by 
Carlson and others. When animals are deprived of salt in their diet 


they demonstrate an urgent craving for the substance, and will travel 
many miles to the "salt licks," if necessary, to satisfy it. 

Green has described a peculiar craving of cattle in South Africa 
due to phosphorus deficiency in the soil, and consequently in the 
diet. This lack of phosphorus leads the cattle to eat bone. Green 
states that young cattle brought up in an area carefully cleaned of 
all bone debris showed osteophagia the first time bones were dis- 
played. In extreme cases there was a tendency to chew wood, eat 
leather or dirt, pick up stones and swallow them, or to eat almost 
anything. This "depraved appetite" is one of the symptoms of oste- 
omalacia, a disease characterized by softening or decalcification of 
the bones. It has been produced experimentally in cattle, by giving 
a diet deficient in phosphorus (and possibly also in other minerals) 
and can be cured by giving the affected animals bonemeal or phos- 
phorus in some other form. 

There are various other interesting instances of parorexia occurring 
as the symptom of a diseased condition. Grass-eating of carnivora in 
case of sickness is well known. Wool-eating by sheep is an abnor- 
mality said to depend upon a mineral deficiency in the diet. Eating 
of feces and infantophagia occur in some species as definite perver- 
sions. Pica is the eating of clay, chalk, earth, or other kinds of in- 
digestible material. In severe cases of uncinariasis (hookworm dis- 
ease) the patients are said to eat earth, paper, chalk, starch, hair, 
and clay; in our southern states the "dirt-eaters" are sufferers from 
hookworm disease. In chlorosis, an anemia occurring in young girls, 
there are capricious cravings, especially for sour and highly spiced 
foods, and sometimes even for chalk or earth. It is well known that 
unusual food cravings often appear during pregnancy in the human 
individual. All these abnormal cravings vanish when health or a 
normal physiological state is re-established. 

R. Turro (according to a statement by Mursell) has argued for 
the existence of specific hungers for proteins, salts, fats, carbohy- 
drates, etc. There are also specific aversions. Regarding one of these 
Sherrington wrote: "Few dogs, even when hungry, can be pre- 
vailed upon to touch dog's flesh as food. Almost all turn from it 
with signs of repugnance and dislike. . . . Some odour attaching 
to the flesh seemed (in an actual test) the source of its recognition." 
But an experiment by E. S. Girden at the University of Illinois has 
shown that the aversion, though quite common, is not universal. 



When It exists It may be destroyed by hunger or by habitation to 
dog meat. 

The existence of specific cravings and aversions suggests that 
special bodily mechanisms regulate the selection of food in health 
and disease. Regarding the detailed nature of these mechanisms we 
are mainly In the dark, and a vast amount of experimental work 
undoubtedly will have to be accomplished before the bodily proc- 
esses can be understood. 

Food Preferences. One frequently hears it said that there is no 
accounting for tastes, but the remark is false, at least in respect to 
the food preferences of the white rat. Working with a group of ten 
rats in a direct preference test (described on pp. 91-92), the author 
used as test materials the following foods: fresh milk (M); cane 
sugar (S); ground whole wheat (W); dried whole milk (D); 
white flour (F); pure butterfat (B). 

The preferential sequences obtained in this experiment are sum- 
marized below: 

Rat 40 







" 41 







42. . . , 






















" JC 







" 4 6 














" 48 















Total group 







* Died before series with butterfat. 

The foods in the first column were the most highly preferred by the 
rats; those in the last column the least preferred. For each animal, 
any given food was preferred to all those in the same row to the 
right of it. 

In these typical results the uniformity Is much more striking than 
the differences. The preferential sequence for the total group, given 



in the bottom line of the table, is strikingly similar to each of the 
sequences for the individual rats. Some foods which are adjacent in 
the preferential sequence for the total group differ from rat to rat 
in their relative locations; but foods remote in the group sequence 
are never interchanged. 

The facts can be adequately pictured if we bor- 
row a term from Tolman, and imagine a con- 
tinuum of demand extending from the highest 
positive value at the top, through indifference, to 
the lowest negative value at the bottom. Figure 31 
shows this continuum as a vertical line, with an 
arbitrary scale marked upon it 

The conception of demand is essential for an 
understanding of the picture. To make the matter 
clear, consider the behavior of rat 48 in our experi- 
ment, tested with a variety of foods. Results indi- 
cated the following preferential sequence:* fresh 
milk > sugar > ground wheat > dry milk 
powder > white flour > butterfat. The series 
was found to be transitive in the sense that every 
food was preferred to all the foods below it. As 
to butterfat, the rat became markedly negative 
towards it by the fourth day. On the fifth and 
following days he approached this food in a cau- 
tious, sniffing-the-air manner, and then turned 
aside as if repelled by it. He ate neither of the two 
test foods when butterfat was presented, but acted 
as if he were nauseated; he avoided the fat 
and remained inactive and sluggish. This dis- 
tinctly negative pattern of behavior persisted 
despite the twenty-three-hour period of food 

The behavior of this animal throughout the total experiment is 
best summarized by stating that fresh milk was more highly de- 
manded than sugar, sugar more highly demanded than ground 
wheat, and so on; that the demand for white flour was relatively 
slight, whereas that for butterfat, slight at first, came to be. actually 

* The symbol "> f> should be read "is preferred to" or "dominates." 


ERENCES. (Explana- 
tion in text.) 


a negative demand, an aversion. The writer assumes that for a given 
metabolic state and a given food substance there is a definite, fixed 
degree of craving or of aversion. The term "demand" is used in a 
general sense to include all possible degrees of craving and aversion. 

It is assumed that if demand values for any given food could be 
measured accurately for a group of rats, the results would take the 
form of a normal distribution curve upon the scale. In Fig. 31 each 
bell-shaped curve represents a hypothetical normal distribution of 
demand values for a group of animals tested with a single food. 
The overlapping of these bell-shaped curves portrays the experi- 
mental findings. The group as a whole is fairly uniform in the 
degree of demand for a given food, but individuals within the group 
may disagree as to the preferential order of the test foods. 

The diagram presupposes that some absolute measure of the 
demand for a single food exists, whereas the preference technique 
actually reveals only relative differences of demand for the foods 
tested. One must not infer, from the diagram, that the location of a 
food upon the scale is fixed. Indeed, a food may shift up or down 
the scale with variations of diet, health, or general metabolic condi- 
tion of the animals tested. 

Such shifts of relative preference have been repeatedly demon- 
strated. The writer found that, when preference tests were made 
daily for a week or more, one of the foods gave a relative increase 
and the other a relative decrease of demand. To designate these 
gradual changes the phrase "preferential trend" was coined. 

Figure 32 shows what happened when ground whole wheat and 
cane sugar were presented on the preference apparatus. The ordi- 
nates give the percentage of trials indicating sugar preference (be- 
low) and wheat preference (above). Each percentage plotted on 
this graph is based upon 250 preferential discriminations (10 rats, 
25 trials each). The eight percentages in the graph are the results of 
eight successive groups of trials. 

When milk and sugar were opposed with nine of the above rats 
(the tenth having died) the result was different, as shown in Fig. 
33. Note that when sugar was opposed to wheat the trend was 
towards an increasing demand for sugar; but when sugar and milk 
were opposed the demand for sugar declined and that for milk 
increased. The trends usually moved consistently in a given direc- 
tion; the preferred food became increasingly preferred. 





Groups of 250 Trials 
FIG. 32. PREFERENTIAL TREND OF WHEAT AND SUGAR (explanation in text}. 

100* = ' : "- - "-''- -V 

Groups of 225 Trials 
FIG. 33. PREFERENTIAL TREND OF MILK AND SUGAR (explanation in text}. 



It is difficult to know how far the preferential trend is a matter 
of learning, and how far it is a matter of chemical adaptation to the 
foods. Whatever the interpretation, the facts are the same: with 
adaptation the preferential relations gradually change. 

Sometimes the mutations of preference were found to be fairly 
abrupt, and were readily observed in the course of an experimental 
hour. One instance of this is reproduced in the following table 3 
which shows the successive preferences of a male rat on the fifth 
day of an experiment using butterfat and wheat. 

Food Preferences Manifest 

in Successive Trials 



W z 7 























3 1 






3 z 











































In this table the first eighteen trials point to a relatively weak and 
unstable preference of butterfat to wheat. Trials 19 to 31, inclusive, 
indicate a definitely developed B preference. After trial 31 there is 
a complete reversal of preference from B to W. 

Spectacular reversals such as the above can be explained only on 
the hypothesis that different bodily mechanisms regulate the de- 
mands for butterfat and for wheat. 

Food Deprivation In Relation to Behavior. A good many 
experiments have been performed upon various aspects of behavior 
in relation to different degrees of food deprivation. Several illustra- 
tions are given in the forthcoming sections. 

A. Food Deprivation and Activity Level. In a comprehen- 
sive series of experiments Wada studied a variety of activities in rela- 


tion to gastric hunger contractions. She employed the technique, 
described on pp. 103-104, in which a balloon is inflated inside the 
stomach and the variations of air pressure due to stomach contrac- 
tions are graphically recorded on a rotating drum. Her subjects 
trained themselves to swallow the tube and to carry on their labora- 
tory tasks with the balloon in place; one subject even slept in the 
laboratory with the gastric bag in situ. 

The graphic records of stomach contraction resembled those of 
Cannon and Washbura, Carlson, and other investigators who have 
used the method. They revealed a respiratory rhythm, a pulse 
rhythm, and the major changes in muscle tonus of the stomach wall 
which constitute the hunger contractions. As the period of food 
deprivation increased there was a gradual heightening of muscle 
tonus; then periodic contractions appeared. These contractions oc- 
curred about three to four hours after a meal, and recurred at inter- 
vals thereafter as long as the stomach was empty. When the 
food-deprivation period increased in duration the stomach move- 
ments grew increasingly powerful and more frequent; and some- 
times they terminated in a prolonged tetanus. 

An interesting point in Wada's research is the demonstration that 
hunger is not merely a local condition, but a general one which 
reveals itself in the behavior of the total organism. Along with the 
stomach contractions are also general restlessness and increase of 
the activity level. 

Observations were made on the subject who slept in the laboratory 
with the gastric balloon in position. When the stomach was quiescent 
the sleeper was relaxed and quiet, but during gastric contractions 
he was restless and frequently shifted his posture. In other words, 
the restless movements which occurred during sleep were not limited 
to the skeletal muscles, but involved the smooth musculature of the 
stomach as well 

Wada also examined by other techniques the periodic changes of 
activity in relation to food deprivation. By means of a tambour at- 
tached to a small bed, the general activity of babies was recorded. 
The records revealed the fact that motor restlessness occurred period- 
ically, and that the frequency of these activity periods increased 
as the feeding time approached. With adult sleepers, restless activi- 
ties fell into distinct groups which had a definite periodicity (an 
observation in line with the well-known work of H. M. Johnson). 



Wada further carried out an activity study with white rats, and 
found that just after the animals had been fed they became inactive 
or slept quietly; but as the period of food deprivation increased they 
became relatively more active. This suggests the experiments of 
Nicholls, Richter, and others upon activity level in relation to the 
duration of food deprivation in guinea pigs and rats. 

With human subjects physical and mental tests were given at 
various times relative to the hunger rhythm. By means of a Smedley 
hand dynamometer, tests were made of the strength of grip during 
the presence and absence of stomach contractions. The following 
results present averages and probable errors for the dynamometer 
scores obtained under three conditions: when the pull on the 
dynamometer is: (i) coincident with contraction periods, (2) dur- 
ing quiescent periods, (3) and immediately after a meal During 
stomach contractions the subjects were decidedly stronger than 



After Meal 

Subject C 
P F 


89. 98 kg. 



Subject H 
P F 

J. . i-*. a v. 

90.91 kg. 



under the other two conditions. The figures shown give the com- 
bined pull of right and left hands in kilograms, the two scores being 
added together. The figures are averages for several series of pulls 
on two days for C and on three days for H. 

Tests upon the rate of tapping, steadiness, and muscular co-ordi- 
nation indicated that hunger contractions were associated with in- 
crease or betterment of these motor activities. The rhythms of hunger 
correlated highly with the ups and downs of motor efficiency. 

The results of Wada's study into the relation between hunger 
contractions and mental alertness are very interesting. She used the 
fifteen forms of the Thorndike intelligence examination. In gen- 
eral, higher scores were made during the contraction periods than 
during the periods of quiescence. In continuous mental work, the 


periods of fatigue and low efficiency occurred simultaneously with 
the intervals of quiescence in the stomach's activity. 

Further, it was reported that the tendency to dream was greater 
during stomach-contraction periods than during quiescence; but 
the results are too few, and the evidence too slight, to give much 
weight to this observation. 

All these experiments point to the same conclusion, namely, that 
the general activity level is higher during stomach contractions than 
during periods of gastric inactivity. Whether the stomach contrac- 
tion is a cause of the heightened general activity, or merely one of 
the symptoms of the general bodily hunger state, is a perplexing 
question which can well be referred to the physiologist for an 

Regardless of interpretation, however, Wada's results agree with 
one's everyday experience. It is commonly known that moderate 
hunger favors alertness. Most teachers, for example, have discovered 
that an eleven o'clock class is likely to be more alert than a one 
o'clock group. After-dinner speakers, if wise, eat little, and in this 
way gain an advantage over their well-fed listeners. 

B. Food Deprivation and Maze Performance. Using the 
learning method, Ligon investigated habit formation in the maze. 
He worked with three groups of rats which had been deprived of 
food for six, twelve, and twenty-one hours, respectively; there were 
twenty afiimals in each deprivation group. 

Results for the three groups are plotted in Fig. 34, which shows 
the median running times for each group on twenty-five successive 
trials. The curves indicate that the most rapid and consistent progress 
in learning to run the maze was made by the rats subjected to 
twenty-one hours of food deprivation. For some reason or other, the 
six-hour group learned more rapidly than the twelve-hour one. This 
latter result, if significant, possibly bears some relation to the activity 
level, which is known to vary irregularly with the time of feeding 

(PP* 55-57)- 

A control experiment was made with animals which were placed 
in the maze immediately after feeding. As might be expected, these 
control animals learned the maze with the slowest speed of all. 
Considering the total experiment, it is apparent that the speed of 



learning varies in general, but not uniformly, with the duration 
of the food-deprivation period. 

In a similar rat-maze experiment Tolman, Honzik, and Robinson 
found that hungry rats made fewer errors than less hungry animals. 
There was also a qualitative difference in maze behavior which 
varied with the period of food deprivation. 

Hungry rats entered long and short blind alleys with about equal 
frequency; but less hungry animals entered the long blinds more 


1500- [ 







* 6 hours after feeding 
-i2 hours after feeding 
21 hours after feeding 







Ordinates give median time of running the maze for each group, in seconds plotted 
logarithmically; abscissae represent trials. 

frequently than the short ones. When the blinds had elbows so that 
their ends were not visible to the rats, this difference in behavior 
was especially pronounced. 

The explanation of this qualitative variation in behavior is not 
yet known. Long blinds conceivably have greater exploratory 
value to the animal than short ones. It may be that some relation- 
ship exists between degree of hunger and degree of dominance of 
exploratory behavior. 

C. Food Deprivation and Pain Avoidance. In Warner's ex- 
periment upon hunger motivation with the obstruction method, a 
serious effort was made to control the physiological state of the 






* Contacts 

"* Approaches 


fication of curves from Warner.) 

The abscissae represent length of deprivation periods; ordinates the frequency of the be- 
havior plotted. Each point on the graph gives the average score for a separate group of ten 
rats. Upper curve, males; lower curve, females. 


animals. Groups of ten rats, all of the same sex, were deprived of 
food for the following periods: o, 2, 3, 4, 6, and 8 days. For each 
deprivation period there was a group of ten males and one of 
ten females. 

In the experiment, when a rat crossed the electrically charged 
grill, he was allowed a nibble of a food mixture in the goal compart- 
ment, and was then returned to the entrance compartment; or after 
one minute, in case he did not nibble, he was returned anyway. The 
frequency of crossings, contacts, and approaches per twenty-minute 
test period was determined. 

Results for the different groups of rats are plotted in Fig, 35. The 
curve of crossings appears to reach its peak somewhere between days 
2 and 4 and then to decline. For the females the peak of crossings 
is on the second day and for the males it is on the fourth day. This 
indicates that the weakening influence of a prolonged fast is shown 
in the female rat earlier and more severely than in the male. 

The frequency of crossings, as represented in Fig. 35, at first in- 
creased and then, with longer deprivation periods, it decreased. Ob- 
viously, the need of the tissues for nutriment increases steadily until 
death by starvation; but with prolonged periods of food deprivation 
the animals become weakened, more fearful of the grill, and less 
able to withstand the painful electric shock. 

As Fig. 35 shows, the number of contacts and approaches does not 
decline with increasing hunger, as do the grill crossings. The animals 
retain an orientation towards the food goal even though they are 
inhibited about crossing to it. Goal orientation is one thing; readi- 
ness to cross the grill is quite another. The objective need of the tis- 
sues for nourishment is still a different matter; it does not correlate 
with the strength of drive as exhibited in behavior. 


The state of the organism in thirst can be differentiated from 
that in hunger, from various points of view. In the first place, the 
most basic difference is the chemical one within the tissues, their 
need for water being quite distinct from the need for salts, protein, 
fat, etc. Again, the internal physiological processes which arouse 
seeking behavior are wholly different in hunger and thirst. From 
the behavioral point of view, the obvious difference between hunger 


and thirst is that of goal objects. Further, the reactions of drinking 
and eating have different periodicities, as Richter has shown for the 
rat when surrounded by a plentiful supply of food and water. And 
finally, as Boring has demonstrated, the conscious experiences of 
hunger and thirst differ both qualitatively and in localization. These 
various differences between hunger and thirst show them to be 
wholly distinct processes, despite the fact that both lead to the taking 
of nutriments into the body. 

> Crossings 
'-* Contacts 
<- Approaches 

12 4 6 



Degree of Thirst and the Obstruction Experiment. 
Warner performed a significant experiment in which he measured 
the intensity of the thirst drive, using the electric grill as an obstruc- 
tion. In this study albino rats fifty of each sex, 185 days old were 
deprived of water, but not of food, for various periods. In order to 
make sure that thirst was the principal factor in operation, the 
animals were tested at a time when sexual drive was weak. 

The rats were divided into five groups of twenty each and then 
tested with water-deprivation periods of o, i, 2, 4, and 6 days. The 
main results are shown graphically in Fig. 36. Of the periods 


studied, water deprivation for one day resulted in the greatest fre- 
quency of crossing. With more than one day of deprivation the 
tendency to cross the grid diminished constantly. Incidentally, the 
differences in thirst behavior between male and female rats were 

It is interesting to compare the results of water and food depriva- 
tion (Figs. 35 and 36). In the case both of thirst and hunger, a pro- 
longed deprivation yielded a reduction in the number of crossings 
of the electric grid; there was a weakening or loss of vigor which 
rendered the animal less ready to receive the electric shock. 

The Experience and Bodily Mechanism of Thirst Not 
only water deprivation but also breathing hot dry air, eating desic- 
cated or salted foods, prolonged speaking or singing, induce thirst. 
Excessive loss of water through sweating, bleeding, or great loss 
through the kidneys also provokes thirst. 

It is interesting in the present connection to note that the subcu- 
taneous injection of the drug atropine reduces the salivary flow, 
and that this causes dryness of the interior surfaces of the mouth 
and throat without any loss of water from the body. Thus, atropine 
produces the thirst experience when there is actually no general 
need of the tissues for water. 

The thirst experience has been described by Cannon as dryness 
or stickiness localized at the inner surface of mouth and throat 
down to the root of the tongue and to the back part of the palate. 
This experience is definitely unpleasant. In more intense thirst the 
tongue cleaves to the roof of the mouth and to the teeth; a persistent 
lump seems present at the back of the throat. 

The thirst experience depends upon a local dryness of the mouth, 
and this in turn results from a general water need of the tissues. 
Drinking or injecting water under the skin quickly removes the 
thirst. It is interesting, also, that the thirst experience can be re- 
moved temporarily by a superficial moistening of membranes in the 
mouth and throat, or by placing a wholly dry bag of ice upon them, 
or by cocainizing the surfaces. Persons lost on the desert with only 
a small amount of water learn to keep the mouth moist to alleviate 
their thirst. 

These facts indicate that the conscious thirst experience of an indi- 
vidual results from local stimulations of nerve endings in the mucous 


linings of the mouth and throat. A neural mechanism lies between 
the objective need of the tissues for water, on the one hand, and 
the conscious desire called thirst, on the other hand. 

According to Cannon's theory, the need of the body for water 
is indicated immediately in the inhibition of the salivary glands. The 
functioning of these glands along with that of other tissues is un- 
favorably affected by a deficient internal water supply. They nor- 
mally keep the mucous surfaces moist, and their functioning depends 
upon an adequate quantity of water in the blood. When the per- 
centage of water in the blood is reduced, salivary secretion is neces- 
sarily restricted, and the mouth and pharynx become dry. This dry 
condition excites the receptors in the mucosa and the adjacent 
neurons, thus releasing the energy of the thirst drive, and also medi- 
ating conscious thirst. 


If two mother rats are placed in the same cage with but a single 
litter, one mother collects the young in her nest or corner and nurses 
them. The other "steals" the litter, carrying them to her own nesting 
place. The two mothers can be observed hustling the young back 
and forth from nest to nest, sometimes showing hostility towards 
each other, and not always, as it appears, behaving to the best 
advantage of the young. 

The demand of the mother for possession of the litter is readily 
understood. The young are required for the free and normal func- 
tioning of the mammary glands; and without them a congested con- 
dition of the breasts arises. Thus there is a physiological need of the 
mother for the suckling of young. This need normally persists until 
the young are weaned, and it largely explains the urge of the mother 
to return to the litter. 

Nissen investigated the maternal drive using the obstruction 
method. He placed the mother in the entrance compartment and 
the litter in the incentive compartment of the Columbia obstruction 
apparatus (p. 93), and recorded the number of crossings, contacts, 
and approaches just as had been done with other drives. 

In summing up the results of this work he wrote: 

"The animals were divided into five groups corresponding to as 


many sets of conditions under which the tests were conducted. The 
results indicate that the intensity of the maternal drive 

"(a) is slightly greater than that of the hunger and thirst drives 
at their maximum ($o, 72) ;* 

"() is greater than that of the sex drive at its maximum (99.6) ;* 

"(r) decreases as the age of the animals increases, when litters 
are being dropped with normal frequency (94) ;* 

"(</) decreases considerably as the age of the litter increases (98) ;* 

"(V) decreases if the mother is separated from her litter for about 
four hours immediately preceding the test (90).*" 

In comparing the maximum strength of the different drives 
Warden concluded that the maternal drive tops the list; and by 
"maternal drive" he meant the readiness of the rat to cross the 
electric grill to reach the young. There are, however, other patterns 
of maternal behavior closely associated with returning to the litter 
and nursing. One of these is the strong urge of the mother to re- 
trieve the young when they have wandered away. Not only does 
she bring back the young of her own litter, but also those of other 
litters, and even lifeless objects, such as small bags of sand, or blocks 
of wood. She will carry the young of another mother to her ne$t 
when they are as much as four days older or younger than her own 
litter, but there is some discrimination against young eight days 

This impulse to retrieve the young persists normally for ten to 
twenty-five days after parturition. It continues during the lactation 
period, and sometime between the twelfth and twentieth days fol- 
lowing parturition begins to show a marked decline. Harlow has 
studied this behavior experimentally. Three of his six curves are 
reproduced in Fig. 37. 

Another pattern of behavior which is related to the birth and care 
of the young is nest-building. Sturman-Huble and Stone have dem- 
onstrated that nest-building is very pronounced in the parturient 
rat; it is readily elicited for seventeen to twenty days after parturi- 
tion, at which time the young begin to leave the nest. 

The nest is an amorphous heap which takes shape only from the 
weight and movements of the mother and young. In building a nest, 

* These figures represent the statistical reliability of the indications stated, in terms of the 
chances in 100 of a true difference. 

I2 4 


however, the rat shows preferences as to location, kind and condition 
of material, etc. 

In one experiment Sturman-Huble put a parturient female and 
her litter in an apparatus consisting of two end-cages connected by 
a long runway. See Fig. 38. After the female had constructed a 
nest in one end-cage a current of air was turned on the nest and 






Own young 

Other young same age 

Other young 8 days older 

1 5 10 15 20 

Days After Parturition 

Comparison of number of own young, other young of the same age, and young eight 
days older. 

young. Generally the mother moved the nest and litter to a place 
outside of the current of air. 

Nest-building is of interest because this pattern of behavior is not 
exclusively related to the care of the young. Kinder has shown that 
nest-building is associated with thermal regulation in the rat; it is 
called out by low temperatures even in rats without young. 

What constitutes maternal behavior in the rat? Is it nursing of 
young? Return to the litter? Retrieving of the young and similar 


objects? Nest-building? Or all of these together plus other activities 
not here considered ? 

Regardless of the answer, one point is clear: the behavior of the 
mother in caring for the young is complex, and it can be analyzed 
into a number of component activities. How far these components 
have a common physiological basis is a problem in need of further 





Hutte and Stone.} 

The equipment consists of two end-cages connected by a long runway. Different posi- 
tions of the electric fan, used to force an air current over the nest, are shown. 


To a considerable extent the basic sexual motivation of man and 
animals is similar, but the psychological elaborations in the sphere 
of human sexual behavior are so complicated that they warrant 
separate consideration. The student should be cautioned against 
drawing conclusions about human sexual motivation from the ex- 
periments upon animals which are described below. 

The Basis of Sexual Behavior in the Rat. In laboratory 
animals it has been demonstrated that sexual behavior depends for 
its appearance upon chemical agents furnished by the reproductive 
glands, aided by hormones from certain other glands of internal 
secretion. The male rat, for example, is not excited by the receptive 
female prior to puberty; but as the germ cells begin to mature and 
the interstitial tissue increases, the internal secretion of the gonads 
is augmented, and the rat becomes sensitized to the patterns of 
stimulation afforded by the female in heat. Stone has shown that 



the fully developed male rat copulates with a receptive female when 
opportunity is given, without any necessity of learning the copu- 
latory act from observing it in other animals. In other words, the 
fully integrated copulatory pattern appears when the reproductive 
organs are mature and activated, and the adequate environmental 
stimulation is present. 

The surgical removal of the reproductive glands before puberty 
prevents the appearance of sexual behavior. If performed after 
puberty, the operation causes sexual behavior to disintegrate and 
disappear. The grafting of testes or the injection of macerated gland 
tissue re-establishes sexual activity, permanently or temporarily, in 
the castrated rat. 

It has been shown also that the grafting of ovaries in the castrated 
male induces typical feminine behavior. Transplantation experiments 
have demonstrated that feminine behavior depends upon an autacoid 
from the ovaries, and that masculine behavior depends upon 
an autacoid from the testes. The question at once arises, "How 
do these chemical agents act to induce masculine or feminine 

In discussing this question Lashley has noted three possibilities. 
The chemical agent might: (i) increase the general excitability of 
the animal by changing its metabolism, or (2) increase the tonus 
of structures controlled by the vegetative nervous system, or (3) act 
directly upon the central nervous system. Of these possibilities Lash- 
ley favors the last. The direct action of the autacoid upon the central 
nervous system is assumed to affect reflex centers in such a way that 
the sexual reactions are rendered excitable. The autacoid is not a 
general activating agent, but a specific one. 

The sexual reactions of both the male and the female rat are spe- 
cific responses to definite patterns of stimulation. The mature male 
animal is excited sexually by almost any small object which moves 
away in a series of quick jerks. This type of movement is char- 
acteristic of the female in oestrus; she runs forward and then stops 
suddenly, runs again and stops so that her progression is jerky in- 
stead of smooth. Simulation of this type of movement with some life- 
less object is enough to excite the sexually mature male. His response 
to this pattern of stimulation is increase of general activity, pursuit 


of the stimulating object, seizing of the object with the forelegs, and 
making of copulatory movements. Although the pattern is complex, 
it can nevertheless be reduced to a series of stimulus-response rela- 
tionships similar to those of a simple reflex. 

The stimulus patterns which arouse masculine behavior in the 
rat, however, are not limited to any single sense department. Stone 
has shown that sexual responses may be evoked through vision, 
audition, smell, taste, or touch. The pattern which arouses male sex- 
ual responses may even be given wholly through the kinesthetic 

According to the point of view of Lashley and Stone, the motiva- 
tion of sexual behavior is a definite physiological problem. In gen- 
eral, explanation is given in terms of: (i) bodily structure; (2) 
the maturation of structure, especially the organs of reproduction; 
(3) the stimulus-response relationship; (4) the action of internal 
chemical sensitizers; (5) environmental stimulations from the mate 
or other object. No libido or psychic force is. needed to explain the 
sexual behavior of the rat. 

Sexual Drive in the Rat as Revealed by the Obstruction 
Method. In a discussion of sexual activity the facts necessitate a 
separate treatment of male and female behavior. 

i. The activity level of the mature female rat is rhythmical, as 
illustrated in Fig. 12 (p. 55). There are periods of high activity fol- 
lowed by periods of relatively low activity; and the total cycle has 
a periodicity of about 4.6 days. Although the rotating drum clearly 
reveals this activity rhythm, it fails to show a point of great im- 
portance. During the peak of activity the animal is in heat, or oestrus, 
exhibiting the specific patterns of behavior, and possessing the char- 
acteristic odor, which arouse copulatory behavior in the male. In 
the periods of low activity, on the contrary, the female is indifferent 
to the sexual advances of the male, and will even fight him off. 

The variations in female sexual drive have been studied by War- 
ner, using the obstruction method with a vigorous male as the in- 
centive. Figure 39 gives the number of grill crossings, contacts, and 
approaches for a group of female rats in successive stages of the 
oestrous cycle. The curve presents one complete cycle and shows 
the waxing and waning of the sexual drive. The maximal drive is 


associated with the presence of comified cells in the secretions from 
the reproductive tract.* 

2. In the male no corresponding rhythm has been discovered. Con- 
sequently it is safe to assume that the male sexual drive is much 
more uniform than that of the female. 



__.. _ Approaches 


I 1 1- 


Stages of Cycle 


THE WHITE RAT. (After Warner.} 

The points along the base line mark successive changes in the histological character of the 
vaginal secretions. These successive changes, symbolized by letter, are: recuperative, early 
inactive, inactive, late inactive, early cornified, cornified, late cornified, post ovulative, 

The sexual drive of the male rat is weakest immediately after a 
prolonged period of copulation with a receptive female; this brings 
about a condition approaching satiation. Recovery from this low 
point is rapid during the first twelve hours, and after twenty-four 
hours the drive reaches its maximum. 

Variations in the strength of the male sexual drive, as revealed 

* Cornified cells are flattened, non-nucleated cells such as those which are continually 
scaling off from the surface of the body. 


by the obstruction method, are shown in Fig. 40. Receptive females 
were used as incentives in the goal compartment The curve, as 
noted above, shows that the maximum drive is present after twenty- 
four hours of deprivation. 


_._. c o n t a cts 

6 12 1 4 28 

Hours Days 



Along the base line are plotted the intervals of sexual deprivation following a copulatory 
period. These intervals are o, 6, and 12 hours; i, 4, 7, and 28 days. 

Sexual Behavior in Monkeys and Baboons. Hamilton 
made a series of careful observations upon the sexual behavior of 
monkeys and baboons. He classified the behavioral tendencies as 
follows : 

i. Tendencies to seek sexual satisfaction. 
A. Male tendencies: 

(a) To engage in typical sexual intercourse with females. 
() To increase sexual excitement by preliminary exam- 
ination of the female's genitalia, or by chasing or 
biting the female. 
(c) To use a younger or weaker male as a female. 


(d) To play the role of female to a copulating male. 

(e) To attempt copulation with non-primates and 


(/) To masturbate (probably developed only under ab- 
normal conditions). 
B. Female tendencies: 

(a) To engage in typical sexual intercourse with males. 

() To play the role of male to younger or weaker female. 

(<r) To play the role of female to friendly female. 

(d) To solicit copulation with non-primates. 

2. Tendencies to assume the female sexual position as a defensive 

A. Male tendencies: 

(a) To assume the female sexual position when attacked 
by a more powerful fellow of either sex, 

B. Female tendencies: 

(a) To assume the female sexual position when attacked 
by a more powerful fellow of either sex. 

3. Tendencies to seek to lure an enemy to attack by assuming the 
female sexual position. 

A. Male tendencies: 

(a) To lure a male enemy to attack by assuming the 
female sexual position. 

B. Female tendencies: 

(a) To lure a female enemy to attack by assuming the 
female sexual position. 

This list of tendencies is a generalization based upon the detailed 
facts of observation of the sexual behavior of monkeys and baboons. 
Hamilton made no attempt to state how far the tendencies were 
instinctive and how far acquired. It is clear, of course, that a state- 
ment of tendency explains nothing; rather it describes some repeat- 
edly observed characteristic of behavior. 


The foregoing discussion of hunger, thirst, maternal, and sexual 
drives illustrates the nature of the primary, or fundamental, urges 
in behavior. A complete list of the fundamental drives would natu- 
rally differ from species to species. In mammalia, apart from the 
above examples, there are at least the following additional drives; 


General activity drives. 

(a) The urge for exercise after prolonged rest. 

(b) The appetite for repose in a fatigued condition. 

(c) The demand for sleep after sleep deprivation. 
Eliminative drives: urination and defecation. 
Temperature regulation drives. 

(a) Adaptation to high temperatures. 

(b) Adaptation to low temperatures. 

Respiratory drive: the demand for air during suffocation. 
Drives evoked by "dangers" (emergency reaction). 

(a) Fear flight. 

(b) Anger attack. 

(c) General bodily excitement. 

Concluding Statement. The present chapter is a survey of the 
principal methods used in the study of animal motivation, and 
typical results obtained. The discussions of hunger, thirst, maternal 
behavior, sexual drive, and other fundamental drives indicate what 
has been already accomplished in the exact study of animal motiva- 
tion and suggest possibilities for future research in this field of 
psychology. Motivational principles based upon these and similar 
experiments will be considered in the next chapter. 

Works referred to in the section upon methods and apparatus are listed below. 

1. ELLIOTT, M. H. The effect of change of reward on the maze performance of 

rats. Univ. Calif. Publ. PsychoL, 1928, 4, 19-30. 

2. JENKINS, T. N., WARNER, L. H., and WARDEN, C. J. Standard apparatus for the 

study of animal motivation. /. Comp. PsychoL, 1926, 6, 361-382. 

3. LEWIN, K. Environmental forces. In C. Murchison, A handbook of child psy- 

chology. Worcester, Mass.: Clark Univ, Press, 1933. (2nd ed.) Pp. xii + 
956. (Chap. 14, pp. 590-625, illustrates Lewin's use of positive and negative 

4. Moss, F. A. Study of animal drives. /. Exper. PsychoL, 1924, 7, 165-185. 

5. SIMMONS, R. The relative effectiveness of certain incentives in animal learning. 

Comp. PsychoL Monog., 1924, 2, No. 7. Pp. 79. 

6. STONE, C. P., and STURMAN-HUBLE, M. Food vs. sex as incentives for male rats 

on the maze-learning problem. Amer. f. PsychoL, 1927, 38, 403-408. 

7. TSAI, C. The relative strength of sex and hunger motives in the albino rat. 

/. Comp. PsychoL, 1925, 5, 407-415. 


8. WARDEN, C. J. Animal motivation, experimental studies on the albino rat. New 

York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1931. Pp. xii + 502. (The book contains 
reprints of experiments with the obstruction method, conducted by several 
investigators in the Columbia laboratory.) 

9. WEVER, E. G. Water temperature as an incentive to swimming activity in the 

rat. /. Comp. PsychoL, 1932, 14, 219-224. 

10. YOUNG, P. T. Relative food preferences of the white rat. /. Comp. PsychoL, 

1932, 14, 297-319; 1933, 15, 149-165- 

References upon the four primary drives which were discussed in the present 
chapter are listed below under their appropriate headings. 

I. Hunger and the Regulation of Eating 

11. BAYER, E. Beitrage zur Zweikomponententheorie des Hungers (Versuche mit 

Huhnern). Zsch. f. PsychoL, 1929, 112, 1-54. 

12. CANNON, W. B., and WASHBURN, A. L. An explanation of hunger. Amer. /. 

PhysioL, 1912, 29, 441-454. 

13. CANNON, W. B. Hunger and thirst. In C. Murchison's, The foundations of 

experimental psychology. Worcester, Mass.: Clark Univ. Press, 1929. Pp. 
x-f 907. 

14. CANNON, W. B. The wisdom of the body. New York: Norton, 1932. Pp. 312. 

15. CARLSON, A. J. Contributions to the physiology of the stomach. II. The rela- 

tion between the contractions of the empty stomach and the sensation of 
hunger. Amer. ]. PhysioL, 1913, 31, 175-192, esp. 185-187. III. The con- 
tractions of the empty stomach inhibited reflexly from the mouth. Ibid., 212- 

16. CARLSON, A. J. The control of hunger in health and disease. Chicago: Univ. 

Chicago Press, 1916. Pp. vii + 319. 

17. DAVIS, C. M. Self selection of diet by newly weaned infants. Amer. f. Dis. 

Child., 1928, 36, 651-679. 

18. EWARD, J. M. Is the appetite of swine a reliable indication of physiological 

needs? Proc. Iowa Acad. of Sd. f 1915, 22, 375-403. 

19. GIRDEN, E. S. Cannibalism in dogs. /. Comp. PsychoL , 1932, 14, 409-413. 

20. GREEN, H. H. Perverted appetites. PhysioL Rev., 1925, 5, 336.- 

21. HQLDEN, F. A study of the effect of starvation upon behavior by means of the 

obstruction method. Comp. PsychoL Monog., 1926, 3, 1-45. 

22. LIGON, E. M. A comparative study of certain incentives in the learning of the 

white rat. Comp. PsychoL Monog. t 1929, 6, No. 2. Pp. 95. 

23. MITCHELL, H. S., and MENDEL, L. B. The choice between adequate and inade- 

quate diet, as made by rats and mice. Amer. f. PhysioL, 1921, 58, 211-225. 

24. MURSELL, J. L. Contributions to the psychology of nutrition. L Hunger and 

appetite. PsychoL Rev., 1925, 32, 317-333. 

25. NEVINS, W. B. Experiments in the self-feeding of dairy cows. Univ. of Illinois 

Agr. Exper. Station, Bull. 289, 1927. 


26. OSBORNE, T. B., and MENDEL, L. B. The choice between adequate and inade- 

quate diets, as made by rats. /. BioL Chem., 1918, 35, 19-27. 

27. PRICE, W. A. Calcium and phosphorous utilization in health and disease: Part 

II. Certified Mil\, 1929, 4, No. 43, p. 8. 

28. SHERRINGTON, C. S. The integrative action of the nervous system. New Haven: 

Yale Univ. Press, 1911. Pp. xvi + 4ii. 

29. TOLMAN, E. C., HONZIK, C. H., and ROBINSON, E. W. The effect of degrees of 

hunger upon the order of elimination of long and short blinds. Univ. Calif. 
PubL Psycho!., 1930, 4, 189-202. 

30. TOLMAN, E. C. Purposive behavior in animals and man. New York: Century, 

1932. Pp. xiv -f 463. 

31. WADA, T. An experimental study of hunger in its relation to activity. Arch. 

Psycho!., 1922, 8, No. 57. Pp. 65. 

32. WARNER, L. H, A study of hunger behavior in the white rat by means of the 

obstruction method. /. Comp. PsychoL, 1928, 8, 273-299. 

33. YOUNG, P. T. Preferential discrimination of the white rat for different kinds of 

grain. Amer. J. Psycho!., 1928, 40, 372-394. (See also reference 10, above.) 

34. YOUNG, P. T. Food preferences and the regulation of eating. /. Comp. Psycho!., 

I933> I5> i67-i7 6 - 

//. Thirst 

35. BORING, E. G. Processes referred to the alimentary and urinary tracts: a qualita- 

tive analysis. Psycho!. Rev., 1915, 22, 306-331. (On thirst, pp. 307-311; on 
hunger, pp. 3U-3*7-) 

36. CANNON, W. B. (See references 13 and 14, above.) 

37. RICHTER, C. P. Animal behavior and internal drives. Quart. Rev. Bio!., 1927, 

2, 307 : 343- 

38. WARNER, L. H. A study of thirst behavior in the white rat by means of the 

obstruction method. /. Genet. Psycho!., 1928, 35, 178-192. 

///. Maternal Behavior 

39. HARLOW, H. F. An experimental study of the feeding reactions and related be- 

havior patterns of the albino rat. Doctoral thesis, Leland Stanford Univ., 

40. KINDER, E. F. A study of the nest-building activity of the albino rat. /. Exper. 

Zoo!., 1927, 47, 117-161. 

41. NISSEN, H. W. A study of maternal behavior in the white rat by means of the 

obstruction method. /. Genet. Psycho!., 1930, 37, 377'393- 

42. STURMAN-HUBLE, M., and STONE, C. P. Maternal behavior in the albino rat. 

/. Comp. Psycho!., 192$, 9, 203-237. 

43. WIESNER, B. P., and SHEARD, N. M. Maternal behavior in the rat. Edinburgh: 

Oliver and Boyd, 1933. Pp. xi + 245. 


IV. Sexual Drive 

44. ELLIS, H. Studies in the psychology of sex. Philadelphia: F. A. Davis, 1925- 

1928. Seven volumes. (These volumes, dealing with human rather than with 
animal psychology, consider the problems of sex from many angles. They are 
classics in the field.) 

45. HAMILTON, G. V. A study of sexual tendencies in monkeys and baboons. 

/. Anim. Behav., 1914, 4, 295-318. 

46. JENKINS, M. The effect of segregation on the sex behavior of the white rat as 

measured by the obstruction method. Genet. Psychol., Monog., 1928, 3, 455- 


47. LASHLEY, K. S. Contributions of Freudism to psychology. Psychol, Rev., 1924, 

31, 192-202. 

48. NISSEN, H. W. The effects of gonadectomy, vasotomy, and injections of pla- 

cental and orchic extracts on the sex behavior of the white rat. Genet. Psychol. 
Monog,, 1929, 5, 45 I -550* 

49. SEWARD, G. H. The female sex rhythm. Psychol. Bull., 1934, 31, 153-192. (Re- 

view of literature.) 

50. STONE, C. P. The congenital sexual behavior of the young male albino rat. 

/. Comp. Psychol. , 1922, 2, 95-153. 

51. STONE, C. P. The initial copulatory response of female rats reared in isolation 

from the age of twenty days to the age of puberty. /. Comp. Psychol., 1926, 

6, 73-83- 

52. STONE, C. P. Sexual drive. In E. Allen's Sex and internal secretion. Baltimore: 

Williams and Wilkins, 1932. Pp. xxii + 951. (Allen's book is the most 
recent and authoritative source of scientific information on the different phases 
of sex.) 

53. WARNER, L. H. A study of sex behavior in the white rat by means of the ob- 

struction method. Comp. Psychol. Monog., 1927, 4, 1-68. 

Some general references for orientation in the study of animal drives, arc 

given below: 

54. DASHIELL, J. F. Fundamentals of objective psychology. Boston: Houghton 

Mifflin, 1928. Pp. xviii + 588. (See pp. 232-248.) 

55. DISERENS, C. M., and VAUGHN, J. The experimental psychology of motivation. 

Psychol. Bull., 1931, 28, 15-65. (See pp. 15-35.) 

56. HOLT, E. B. Animal drive and the learning process, an essay toward radical 

empiricism. New York: Holt, 1931. Pp. vii + 307. 

57. Moss, F. A. Comparative psychology. New York: Prentice Hall, 1934. Pp. 

xiv -f 529. (See Chap. IV, Motivation: incentives.) 

58. MUNN, N. L. An introduction to animal psychology, the behavior of the rat. 

Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1933. Pp. xxii -{- 439. (See Chap. II, General 
activity and persistence of response in the presence of obstructions.) 

59. MURPHY, G. and L. B. Experimental social psychology. New York: Harper, 

1931. Pp. ix + 709- (See Chap. II, The biology of motives.) 


60. VALENTIN!, W. L. Readings in experimental psychology. New York: Harper, 

1931. Pp. xv + 606. (See Part IV, Internal stimuli and their responses! 
There are brief reports of some motivation experiments with questions and 

6 1. WARDEN, C. J. (See reference 8, above.) 

62. WASHBURN, M. F. The animal mind, a text-boo\ of comparative psychology. 

New York: Macmillan, 1930. Pp. xvi + 431. (See pp. 323-329, on drive.) 


"Purposive action is the most -fundamental category of psychology; 
just as the motion of a material particle ... has long been the funda- 
mental category of physical science. Behavior is always purposive 
action, or a train or sequence of purposive actions." 


A detailed consideration of the primary drives brings to light the 
involvement of specific tissues as the source of persistently motivated 
behavior. In each of the basic drives mentioned in the preceding 
chapter the bodily mechanisms are physiologically distinct. 


Physiological Differentiation of the Primary Drives. 

Although the original conception of drives, and their classification, 
are based upon observations of behavior, not until they come to be 
differentiated in terms of inner bodily mechanisms will law and 
order be discovered in this rapidly developing field of psychology. 
Hunger and thirst can be thus distinguished, in terms of the tissues. 
The facts are so convincing that there is no ground for quibbling 
over the validity of the distinction. It is even possible that the de- 
mand for food may be found to involve specific bodily mechanisms 
for different kinds of foods; but until they have been demonstrated* 
physiologically, it is well to refrain from speaking of a "fat drive," 
"a carbohydrate drive," "a salt drive," and so on. 

Again, there are good grounds for distinguishing male from 
female sexual drives on the basis of bodily mechanisms. Not only 
are the reproductive organs structurally different in the sexes, but 
also the chemical sensitizers, or hormones, present in the internal 
secretions of the gonads induce characteristic forms of masculine 
and of feminine behavior. Similarly, maternal behavior, viewed 
from the standpoint of bodily mechanisms, depends upon a persist- 




ing physiological state in the lactating mother, which state as a 
whole can readily be distinguished from those associated with the 
ether drives, 

Although the primary drives have their complex origins in the 
tissues, one can by no means argue conversely that an individual 
tissue or xorgan is the source of a specific drive. The circulatory 
system, for example, although it plays an important role in behavior, 
being especially prominent in emotional reactions, cannot be said 
to have aay unitary and specific "circulatory drive" depending upon 
it alone. Similarly, there is no "stomach drive." The regulating of 
hunger, as we have seen, involves stomach contractions, but it also 
involves processes in various other parts, of the body, such as meta- 
bolic changes in the cells, chemical changes in the blood, neural 

Thus, differentiation among the fundamental drives can be made 
on a frankly physiological basis when we take into account the 
whole complex of tissue conditions. Where physiological differen- 
tiation is impossible for any reason, the conservative policy is to 
assume, for the present, that the drives in question are not primary. 
In conclusion, it is well to repeat that the conception of "drive" is 
essentially behavioral, and that the physiological interpretations, 
important as they are for differentiation and classification of drives, 
must always start from the facts of behavior. 

Bodily Mechanisms of the Basic Drives. All fundamental 
drives have certain common characteristics, namely: (a} a persist- 
ent condition in the tissues; which gives rise to (b) a sustained 
stimulation of afferent nerves; from the latter (c) a release of energy 
in nerves, muscles, and other tissues, which raises the activity level; 
and (d) in developed organisms, goaklirected behavior; with (<?) 
a goal object or a consummatory reaction which is capable of re- 
moving the persistent tissue condition mentioned in (#), thus re- 
storing homeostasis.* 

Some drives depend upon a mechanical pressure on receptors 
located in the walls of hollow viscera, or of ducts. In addition to 
food hunger, and the appetite for suckling in the lactating mother, 
further examples of this are found in the urges for defecation, and 

* For a discussion of homeostasis see pp. 81-83. 


micturition, and to some extent in the male sexual drive. In such 
cases the persistent mechanical stimulation from distension of the 
respective organs (or from contraction in the case of. the stomach) 
brings an urge for discharge or other relief. 

Certain other drives have a somewhat different basis. They de- 
pend directly upon the physical or chemical state of the tissues. In 
thirst, for example, dehydration of the tissues and especially of the 
mucous lining of mouth and throat gives rise to the persistent stim- 
ulation which releases the energy manifest in the thirst drive. Again, 
in the case of the pain-avoidance drive, conditions which threaten 
the integrity of the tissues, such as drops of acid on the skin, pain- 
fully high or low temperatures, cuts, electric shocks, give a direct 
and often a persistent excitation which leads whenever possible 
to the avoidance of pain and injury. 

Still other drives depend upon some internal chemical factor, 
known or assumed. Examples of such drives are the demand of the 
organism for oxygen, the urge for quiescence after exercise, the 
urge for exercise after rest, the demand for sleep, the female sex 
urge to some extent, and probably certain cravings or aversions for 
specific food substances. The chemical agents in the blood stream 
are commonly assumed to excite the nerve centers directly. In mus- 
cular fatigue, for example, it is believed that carbon dioxide and 
other fatigue products in the blood excite the respiratory center 
in the medulla, or at least render the neurons of that center more 
excitable, in this way quickening respiration and the re-oxygenation 
of the blood. 

The glands of internal secretion continuously pour out into the 
blood stream chemical substances containing their characteristic 
hormones, or autacoids, and these may be the source of drives. How 
the hormones act to establish a specific drive is not known in detail. 
Holt, in discussing chemical regulation, assumes that the chemical 
agents stimulate certain unknown receptors. He writes: 

In short, it seems to me that the safe and sober view here is that 
the deficit stimuli (chemical) probably exist, that they may (or 
may not) exist in the blood, that they stimulate specifically differ- 
ent receptor organs, and that at present nobody has the faintest 
idea what or where these receptor organs are. 


It is to be hoped that further study of the chemical bases of be- 
havior (which study may be called the science of "psychochemis- 
try") will greatly increase our knowledge of the bodily mechanisms 
of the primary drives. 


The separation of organism and environment is convenient and 
practically useful. The environment is the source of food, air, water, 
heat energy; it is also the source of injury, death, poison, pain. In 
a very real sense, it is the stage upon which an organism acts, and 
the acting cannot be described without reference both to the organ- 
ism and to the environment. 

In respect to all behavior, the energy which moves an organism 
is stored within the tissues and released by stimulation. With the 
primary drives, some persisting physiological state is the source of 
the behavioral urge; but this is only part of the picture. Just as per- 
sisting internal tissue conditions incite the organism until physio- 
logical quiescence is restored, so continuing environmental stimula- 
tions arouse activity until some final adjustment is made to them. 

These continuing environmental conditions will be illustrated 
below. As a matter of fact, the environmental and the organic 
factors in motivated behavior are constantly interrelated, and the 
first example given below the emergency reaction illustrates 
well their interdependence. 

The Emergency Reaction. When a cat is pursued by a bark- 
ing dog the first reaction is flight and escape, but if the cat is cor- 
nered, the pattern changes to that of attack. The difference between 
flight and attack, so far as is known, does not lie in the accompany- 
ing endocrine secretions and the visceral processes associated with 
the two reactions, but rather in the dynamic relationship between 
the organism and its environmental situation. Flight is an avoidance, 
a negative reaction to a threatening or dangerous situation. Attack 
is an approach, a positive reaction to the same general type of situa- 

If the cat is lucky enough to escape from her tormentor by climb- 
ing a tree, a state of general excitement is exhibited for some time 
in the animal's behavior. The excitement lacks a specific goal orien- 


tation, but the cat, nevertheless, Is all keyed up to fight or to run 
should the need arise. 

The internal bodily reactions to the source of a biological danger 
have been called by Cannon the "emergency emotions." Considered 
as a group they involve a pattern of bodily changes which prepare 
the organism for vigorous struggle and prolonged activity. The 
increased secreting of the adrenal glands, the more rapid liberation 
of sugar from the liver, the acceleration of heart action and of 
respiration, and other bodily changes, all prepare and integrate the 
organism for marked energy expenditure, as Cannon has shown. 

On a tissue basis the total group of emergency reactions can be 
differentiated clearly from those involved in hunger, thirst, sex, and 
the other basic drives. The interesting fact remains that, despite 
repeated experimentation, neither Cannon nor his collaborators 
have found any physiological difference between the glandular and 
visceral processes associated with fear (flight) and rage (attack). 
From the physiological standpoint, therefore, fear, rage, and the 
general excitement which is a hangover from them are quite alike. 
Yet everyone, from the psychologist to the child on the street, dif- 
ferentiates fear from anger; the common experience of all testifies 
to the genuineness of this distinction. 

Upon what basis, then, can the emergency reactions be differen- 
tiated ? As observed above, the distinction between flight and attack 
lies not in the intraorganic processes, but rather in the dynamic re- 
lationship between organism and environmental situation. Also the 
emotionalized attitudes of fear and anger can best be described in 
terms of a dynamic relationship between an individual and his 
world. When we are afraid we fear something] when we are angry 
we are angered at something* In other words, the distinction in 
question is behavioral rather than physiological. 

Because of this the emergency reactions are of especial interest. 
To summarize, the total group can be differentiated from other 
basic drives on a bodily basis; but, within the group, distinctions 
can be made only on a behavioral basis, or, in other words, by 

* There are rare Instances of objectless fear or anxiety. The physiological basis of fear is 
then present without an adequate environmental support. An interesting example is the 

objectless fear sometimes felt after the experimental injection of adrenalin. 



reference to the organism's back-kick upon some persisting en- 
vironmental condition. 

The Reactions to Novelty. If a rat is placed in a novel situa- 
tion, provided fear is not evoked, the typical behavior is exploratory. 
A hungry rat explores his environment before eating; sexually vig- 
orous animals confronted with a mate in a new environment ex- 
plore before copulating. Exploratory behavior is highly characteristic 
of the rat, and this makes him an especially satisfactory subject for 
such pieces of apparatus as the maze. A maze especially designed 
to incite exploration, copied from Dashiell's model and enlarged, is 
shown in Plate IV. When a rat is placed at the opening of such 

(University of Illinois Psychological Laboratory, courtesy of Dr. E. E. Anderson.} 

a labyrinth he starts to investigate the novel environment; explora- 
tion continues until the maze has been thoroughly examined. Un- 
usual objects placed here and there, such as corks, sawdust, wire- 
mesh partitions, etc., add to the "exploratory value" of the maze. 

Nissen has shown that rats will cross an electric grid and take a 
painful shock to reach a novel compartment which provides oppor- 
tunity to explore. The greater the "exploratory value" of the incen- 
tive compartment the more readily do the rats cross the grid. Al- 
though his results are of low statistical reliability, Nissen concludes 
that one is justified in speaking of an exploratory drive just as one 
now does of sex, hunger, and thirst drives. 

During exploration practically all the sensory-motor equipment 
of the rat is called into play in sniffing, looking, listening, biting, 
and the other specific reactions which make up exploratory be- 


havior. The essential condition for exploration is a novel environ- 
ment; the "curiosity" reactions disappear when the animal becomes 
thoroughly acquainted with his new surroundings. 

Exploration is pronounced in the behavior of hunting dogs, cats, 
and the wild animals which of necessity find their way about in 
the jungle. It is also marked in man. Not only the relatively small 
group of professional explorers, but likewise the man in the street, 
display this behavior. Who has not experienced an inner urge to 
explore a new house which is going up in the neighborhood, or a 
thickly wooded country with many winding pathways and streams 
which fairly beg the newcomer to explore and discover? The young 
child when presented with a new toy manipulates it in various 
ways: scrutinizing it, pounding, tasting and biting it, throwing it 
away, and so forth. When a little older he asks endless questions 
about the circumambient world; his elders say he is at the "curi- 
osity" age. This same questioning attitude in the adult has led to 
important practical discoveries and inventions and to scientific in- 
vestigation that has enormously increased human knowledge. 

The biological importance of exploration is obvious. It yields ac- 
quaintance with one's surroundings, revealing possible dangers, 
places and paths of safety, sources of food, enemies, members of 
one's own species, and so on. In a Darwinian sense, other things 
being equal, the animal with the greatest penchant for exploration 
has the best chance of survival. 

The exploratory drive is an excellent example of behavior which 
depends upon persisting environmental conditions (novelty) rather 
than upon a physiological state. It continues until the environment 
becomes familiar and known rather than strange and uncertain. 

Playful Behavior. The playful behavior of animals and man 
has been universally observed and much studied; yet no one claims 
that there is a special play-gland, or any localized tissue condition 
which initiates all playful activity. 

It is quite likely, however, that playful behavior depends partly 
upon a metabolic state of the organism which is conducive to a rela- 
tively high activity level; to this extent playing may be assumed to 
have an organic basis. Certainly an extremely sick animal or child 
does not play with vigor; exuberance of energy is sometimes re- 
garded as the essential condition of play. 


Playful behavior, as such, has no characteristic pattern of reac- 
tion; but it is made up of many. For example, the kitten at play 
pursues, pounces, growls, bites lightly; seemingly her whole reper- 
toire of reactions is exhibited. Even fragments of sexual behavior 
appear in play. 

Inasmuch as sexual play is observed to be carried on without 
copulation, the suggestion has been made that the sexual behavior 
is really made up of two components: contrectation (/>., sexual 
play) and copulation. This distinction is behavioral rather than 
physiological One can argue that contrectation is a weakly aroused, 
possibly an inhibited, sexual drive; or one can claim that it is a 
true form of play which merely utilizes the sexual action systems. 
In the rat, for example, nosing, biting, chasing, mounting, and 
other reactions which are normally part of copulation, appear in 
play. For a scientifically correct analysis of sexual play and its moti- 
vation further observations in the laboratory are needed. 

Although playful behavior depends in part upon an organic and 
mental state, the specific reactions called out in play are determined 
largely by the particular environment. The environment dominates 
play more in the animal than in the child, more in the child than 
in the adult, more in the untrained adult than in the highly edu- 
cated individual. Consider, for example, the environmental control 
of behavior in an active, healthy dog, described by Holt as follows: 

A house dog let out in the morning usually romps away to his 
favourite post or tree, smells carefully of all sides of it, micturates 
on it, and then looks about; he spies the tree where the old cat is 
apt to sit waiting for robins, so he bounds off thither; having driven 
the cat up the tree, he takes an olfactory survey of the spot, and 
then observes that the cross cow is tethered in the field half way up 
the hill, so he dashes on to give her a disturbed ten minutes; when 
tired of this he stops to look about, and his eyes alight on the swim- 
ming-hole down at the foot of the hill, so away he bounds again 
and does not stop until he is in the water; emerging from this he 
shakes himself, rolls on the grass, and dashes off on some further 
enterprise. Clearly the pursuance of one quest brings the animal 
into a situation where some new stimulus incites him to a new 
activity. This is diversion. 

In other words, the sequence of reactions in the life of a dog is 


determined in large part by the sequence of environmental situa- 
tions. His behavior changes his environment; the new environment 
in turn leads him to a new form of behavior. 

Thus in play and in all free exuberant activity there is environ- 
mental regulation first and last, but, as we have noted, there is also 
a predisposing organic and mental state. 

Social Behavior* Among the animal species best known to 
the average man socialization is frequently present. Birds migrate 
in flocks; wolves hunt in packs; monkeys travel through the woods 
in groups; fish swim in schools; boys play in gangs; ants, bees, and 
other insects have highly evolved social organizations. Human so- 
ciety, indeed, is only one example of a widespread biological phe- 
nomenon; but it is the outstanding example, so far as complexity of 
organization and social tradition are concerned. 

The rat has served the psychologist well* in many fields, and it 
too has its contribution to offer in the sphere of social behavior. 
Ligon and others have studied social motivation in the rat. In one 
experiment male rats learned to run the maze when the only in- 
centive was another male placed in the goal-box. The rats were 
reared in pairs, a pair being constantly together in the same living- 
cage, except during periods of experimentation. When one member 
of the pair ran the maze the other was placed in the goal-box as 
an incentive, no other reward being offered. A second group of 
animals ran the maze under similar conditions, except that each 
rat had been reared separately in an individual cage. The subject, 
after running the maze, found another male rat in the reward box, 
and was allowed to remain with him for half an hour. As a control, 
a third group of rats (which had been living in individual cages), 
ran the maze to an empty goal-box. 

The group differences in the learning scores were small and statis- 
tically unreliable, yet the general trend of results was in accord with 
expectation. The group of rats running to the empty cage made the 
poorest scores; those running to the cage-companion made the best 
scores. The motivational sequence was: return-to-cage-companion > 
finding-strange-rat > empty-goal-box. 

In man, social behavior is far more complicated and highly de- 
veloped than with animals. Communication by means of speech, 

* So well, in fact, that Professor Tolman saw fit to dedicate his book, Purposive Behavior 
in Animals and Men, to Mm norvegicus albinus. 


gesture, and facial expression; social stimulation from other persons 
through imitation, suggestion, praise or reproof, rivalry, laughter 
and weeping, expressions of sympathy; response to friends and 
acquaintances, to strangers, to the crowd, the audience, and other 
social groups; adjustment to persons in the family, in business, in 
clubs, lodges, churches, social gatherings: these and similar proc- 
esses, the study of which belongs to the important and rapidly 
growing field of social psychology, indicate the complexity of hu- 
man social motivation. 

In the present context the point to be made is a fairly simple one: 
social behavior can be distinguished from non-social in terms of the 
environment which excites the organism. The point has been stated 
clearly by Allport, who writes: 

Behavior in general may be regarded as the interplay of stimula- 
tion and reaction between the individual and his environment- 
Social behavior comprises the stimulations and reactions arising 
between an individual and the social portion of his environment; 
that is, between the individual and his fellows. Examples of such 
behavior would be the reactions to language, gestures, and other 
movements of our fellow men, in contrast with our reactions to- 
ward non-social objects, such as plants, minerals, tools, and inclem- 
ent weather. The significance of social behavior is exactly the same 
as that of non-social, namely, the correction of the individual's 
biological maladjustment to his environment. 

Social psychology is thus defined by Allport in terms of the reac- 
tions which an individual makes to his social environment. Any 
attempt to define this field of our science by reference to the sense 
organs, nervous system, glands, or other bodily structures would 
miss the point, because all parts of the organism are (or may be) 
involved, both in social and in non-social reactions. Hence, a defi- 
nition of social psychology on a bodily basis alone, without refer- 
ence to the social environment, is out of the question. Social motiva- 
tion, with all its complexities, must therefore be investigated mainly 
from the standpoint of an individual's social environment. 


We have seen the importance of tissue conditions and of environ- 
mental factors in human and animal behavior. It remains to be 


pointed out that these two great groups of determining factors are 
most complexly and intimately related. Environmental changes 
directly affect bodily processes, just as one change within the body 
broadcasts its influence to other parts. 

It is best to consider any bit of behavior as dependent upon the 
total organic and environmental state. Internal bodily conditions 
are so delicately balanced and interdependent that it is almost im- 
possible to find wholly unrelated variables. If a single organic factor, 
such as the percentage of adrenin in the blood, be experimentally 
varied, many physiological and behavioral manifestations result. 
Any attempt to isolate and to vary a single factor is likely to bring 
about other modifications at the same time. 

Examples of the Interdependence of Motivating Condi- 
tions. So far as the fundamental drives are concerned a few of 
the interrelationships are noted below: 

1. Thirst and food intake. In his experiment upon thirst, Warner 
found that the food intake of rats fell off decidedly during long 
periods of water deprivation, even though the animals had plenty 
of food in the cage. Deprivation of water thus brought about a 
reduction of the hunger drive and a general metabolic disturbance. 
Forced feeding, even if it were practicable, would not remove this 
difficulty; it would probably only disturb the internal conditions of 
the animaL 

2. Hunger and sexual drive. According to Moss, the strength of 
the sexual drive is weakened when rats are deprived of food. Other 
investigators, working with both man and animals, have found 
that sexual drive is inhibited or, abolished by prolonged hunger 
and also by a strange environment, by endocrine disorders, and by 
various other conditions. 

In a nutrition experiment described by Miles twenty-four young 
men lived for a time under a regime of restricted diet with an 
energy content of approximately two-thirds to one-half of their 
supposed caloric requirement. When the body weight had decreased 
approximately 12 per cent, the food was increased. 

The young men while living at a lowered nutritional level were 
given personal interviews. All of them reported a lowering of sex 
drive during the restricted diet. There was less sex interest, less 
desire to associate with the opposite sex, less appeal of dances and 


social affairs, less sex appeal in shows, pictures, and stories. No man 
testified to a heightened sex desire concurrent with the lowered nu- 
tritional level. 

3. Hunger and exploration. Dashiell placed rats in an exploratory 
maze (p. 141) and scored exploratory behavior by counting the 
number of units of the maze entered in the time allowed. If a rat 
put his foot into one of the units, that was checked as an entrance. 
Scoring in this way, he found that hungry rats explored to an 
appreciably greater extent than satiated ones. 

4* Maternal drive and reaction to novelty. In an experiment upon 
maternal drive in rats, Nissen used a special maternity cage in which 
the litter had been born, attaching this cage directly to the obstruc- 
tion apparatus. Commenting upon the plan Warden wrote: 

It may be argued that, in such a case, we are testing the maternal 
drive plus the tendency to return to the home nest. But the truth 
seems to be that when the normal conditions of maternity are dis- 
turbed by transferring the litter to an unfamiliar apparatus, the 
tendency to explore the novel surroundings of the litter interferes 
with the maternal drive. Then, too, many animals ignore young 
that have been moved about this is true of many species of birds 
such as the quail. 

5. Maternal drive and food intake. After a litter is born there is 
generally a marked increase in the amount of food eaten by the 
mother rat. According to Wang, the food intake may even reach 
three times the normal amount. This means that the physiological 
state underlying maternal behavior influences the conditions which 
regulate food ingestion. 

6. Ocstrous cycle and food intake. Quite apart from maternity, 
there is a definite relationship between the quantity of food eaten 
and the oestrous cycle. There are, in the mature female, regular 
fluctuations of food intake which vary inversely with those of the 
oestrous cycle. At or near the peak of oestrus, when activity is 
highest, the food intake reaches its lowest level. Moreover, these 
fluctuations in food intake are absent when oestrus is temporarily 
suspended during gestation and lactation; they are absent from 
the food curves of male rats and immature females. The facts Indi- 
cate, ^therefore, that organic conditions which regulate oestrus and 
those which regulate food intake are interrelated in some way. 



7. Nest-building and oestrous cycle. Nest-building activity also 
fluctuates with the oestrous cycle. Variations in the nest-building 
of rats have been studied quantitatively by presenting the animals 
with strips of paper and at a later time counting the number of 
units heaped together to form a nest. The nest is in no sense a work 
of art, but rather an amorphous pile which takes shape only through 
its repeated use by the animals. Two methods of presenting mate- 
rials have been employed by Richter and Kinder, respectively. The 
first consisted of distributing the paper strips evenly over the floor 
of the cage; the second, of hanging them over the horizontal rim 
of the cage wall With both methods the number of strips utilized 
was the criterion of nest-building activity. 

These two experimenters obtained concordant results. Kinder 
concluded that nest-building of the adult female rat shows cyclic 
variations which are synchronous with, but inversely related to, the 
oestrous cycle. The maximum of nest-building occurs during the 
dioestrous interval, and the minimum at the peak of oestrus. Thus 
the nest-building* cycle is inversely related to that of running ac- 
tivity (pp. 54-55). 

8. Nest-building and temperature. The amount of nest-building 
activity also varies with the environmental temperature, being in- 
creased at low temperatures, except that in extreme cold this is not 
the case. Conversely, at high temperatures the amount of nest- 
building is decreased. 

9. Activity level and temperature. We have previously seen that 
the level of general activity varies inversely with temperature (pp. 

The nine illustrations listed above constitute a fair sampling of 
the experimental facts which demonstrate interdependence and 
complexity of relationship among motivating conditions. Any at- 
tempt to isolate a single drive for experimental purposes brings to 
light many complicating conditions. Hence we repeat what was 
stated early in this section that it is wise, at least for the present, to 
consider behavior as dependent upon the total organic and en- 
vironmental state rather than upon single isolated factors, and to 
approach the problem of drive from this angle. 

The Relative Dominance and Hierarchy of Drives. 
Attempts to determine which of two drives, such as sex and hunger, 


is the stronger have been made by Moss, Simmons, Tsai, Warner, 
and others. The most thoroughgoing comparison is that of War- 
den, based upon the work of his collaborators, who measured the 
maximal strength of different drives in the rat. Using the experi- 
mentally determined maxima as a basis for comparison, Warden 
ranked the drives in the following order: 

First: maternal. 
Second: thirst. 
Third: hunger. 
Fourth: sex. 
Fifth: exploratory. 

Warden's ranking has been criticized by Leuba on the ground 
that the results depend upon the arbitrary use o a twenty-minute 
period with the obstruction apparatus. "If we take only the number 
of crossings during the first five minutes, the thirst drive Is un- 
doubtedly stronger; if the experimental period were to last thirty 
or forty minutes, however, it looks as though the hunger drive 
(after three days of food deprivation) would be decidedly the 
stronger, in terms of average number of crossings." 

Warden and his collaborators, who have stressed the importance 
of controlling conditions in research with animals, and who have 
set such an excellent example of this in their own work, would 
doubtless agree that with a different period of observation another 
hierarchy of drives might appear. Under one set of conditions drive 
A is prepotent to 5, but under other circumstances B dominates A. 

Changes in the relative dominance of two drives are sometimes 
clearly observable in behavior. Sexual behavior may disappear dur- 
ing fear or hunger. Under other circumstances the fear or the hun- 
ger motivation may utilize sexual activities to attain some goal. 
Kempf and Hamilton both noted that monkeys sometimes offer 
sexual favors to obtain food or protection from the assault of other 
monkeys. When, for example, an enemy is present, a monkey (of 
the same or opposite sex) has been seen to assume a sexually invit- 
ing posture, thus distracting the attacker and by this means making 
an escape. Whether such use of sexual behavior for a non-sexual 
goal is a true case of the domination of one drive over another is 





Conunoo Names 


Inducing Conditions 
(mainly environ- 

3 4 
Organic Staces 


Bodily Structures 
Chiefly Involved 

Persisting Chemical 
Factors in Blood or 

Persisting Physical 
Sources of the Drive 

2. Hunger 

Food deprivation 

Deficiency of protein, 
carbohydrate, fat, etc. 

Hunger contraction of 
the stomach 

All tissues, especially 
the stomach 

i. Nausea 

Certain odors 

Internal irritation 

Upper alimentary tract 

3. Thirst 

Water deprivation. 

Relatively low HsQ in 

Dry condition of mem- 

All tissues, especially 
mucous membranes of 
mouth and throat 

4- Sex 

Sex deprivation 

Autacoid from gonads 

Distended seminal ves- 

Reproductive organs 

5. Nursing 

Presence of young 

Distention of acini in 
mammary gland 

Mammary glands 

6. Urinating 

Various inducing con- 

Distended bladder 


7. Defecating 

Various inducing con- 

Distended rectum 


8. Avoiding heat 

High temperature 

Cutaneous irritation 

Blood vessels, sweat 

9. Avoiding cold 

Low temperature 

Cutaneous irritation 

Blood vessels, sweat 


ij A voiding pain 

Noxious stiirmlatioos 

Cutaneous irritation or 
damage to tissues 

Skin receptors and neu- 

ii. Air hunger 

Absence of air (ox- 


Lungs, diaphragm, and 
other parts 

n. Fear and anger 

Various "dangers" 


Adrenal glands 

1 3. Fatigue 

Prolonged muscular 


CQz, lactic acid 

Muscles and nerves 

14. Sleep 

Loss of sleep 


15 Curiosity, observa- 
tion, manipulation 

Novel objects, move- 
ment, intense stimula- 


16. Social instinct 

Absence from the 

17. Tickle 

Stimulation of "sensi- 
tive zones" 

Cutaneous or subcuta- 
neous irritation* , 

"Sensitive zones" 




6 7 


Effect upon General 


Specific Reactions to 
Incentives, "Consum- 
matory Reactions" 


Final State of Affairs 


Ob jec ts-and-si tuations- 


Increased restlessness, 
search for food 

Salivation, chewing, 

Food eaten 

Nauseating foods eaten, 
certain odors 


Nauseating substances 


Increased restlessness, 
search for water 

Drinking reactions 

Water drunk 


Increased restlessness, 
search for mate 

Various reactions, cop- 

Copulation completed 


Nursing, retrieving 
and caring for young 

Nursing completed 

Suitable place to uri- 


Urine discharged 

Suitable place to defe- 


Feces discharged 

High temperature 

Increased restlessness, 
struggle if intense 

Vaso-dilation, sweat- 

Complete escape from 
high temperature 

Low temperature 

Increased restlessness, 
struggle if intense 

Complete escape from 
low temperature 


Agents which damage 
the tissues (cuts, burns, 
acids, etc.) 

Restlessness or writh- 
ing, if persistent and 

Reflex withdrawal 

. ... 


Air (oxygen) 

Restlessness or struggle 

Inhaling air 

Air gained 

Various "enemies" and 

Increased excitement, 

Biting, scratching, 

Dangers removed 


g ' 

Place to relax 

Further activity 

Quiescence, relaxation 

Resting, relaxing 

Rest, heightened ac- 
tivity level attained 

Place to sleep 

Quiescence, relaxation, 

Closing eyes, breathing 
deeply, sleeping 

Refreshed condition 

Various inducing ob- 
jects and situations 


Looking, listening, 

Complete "familiar- 
ity" with environment 

Others of species 

Observant reactions, 
vocalizations, joining 
company of others 

Return to company of 

Stimulating conditions 

Restlessness or struggle 

Various reflexes, 
squirming, struggling 

Sensitive-zope stimula- 
tion removed 


obviously open to question. One can argue that a true sexual urge 
was never aroused in these instances. 

Be that as it may, there is no doubt that hunger behavior domi- 
nates thirst if the animal has been long deprived of food and only 
recently of water, and that thirst dominates hunger under a reversal 
of conditions. Also the preferential order for foods varies with the 
constituents of an animal's diet. Similarly, exploratory behavior in- 
hibits sexual aggression, eating, and drinking, if rats are placed in 
a novel environment. Many such examples can be found to show 
that the relative dominance of behavior patterns is largely depend- 
ent upon circumstances. We are forced to conclude that there is no 
immutable hierarchy of drives. 

Psychologists sometimes say that when two motives come into 
conflict the stronger always wins. But this is a truism so long as the 
only way to determine which motive is the stronger is to bring the 
two into direct opposition. The real problem is to discover, if pos- 
sible, the conditions which regulate the strength of a motive, and 
to get some adequate measure which aids in the prediction and con- 
trol of behavior. 

Analysis and Differentiation of the Primary Drives. 
The problem of differentiating drives will be made clearer by a 
careful study of the table on pp. 150-151 "which shows some of the 
more important aspects of adaptive behavior. 

1. The first column gives the common names for the drives in 

2. The second column lists certain conditions which induce adap- 
tive behavior in organisms. Most of these are environmental, but 
some of them, as prolonged muscular activity (item 13) and loss 
of sleep (item 14) have an organic factor, induced by a particular 
environmental circumstance. 

3 and 4. The organic states which are at the basis of the different 
forms of adaptive behavior are illustrated by the examples given in 
columns 3 and 4. Persisting chemical factors are mentioned in 
column 3; physical sources of drive are noted in column 4. The 
chemical factors are either internal deficiencies based upon some 
lack in the diet, or hormones and similar exciting agents. 

5. Column 5 lists the bodily structures which are chiefly involved 
in the forms of adaptive behavior under consideration. The entries 



in the list are of necessity abbreviated, being merely suggestive of 
the complex pictures which might easily be drawn. 

6 and 7. Columns 6 and 7 list the incentives in the environment 
which are actively sought or avoided in the drives. The positive 
goal objects are listed in column 6 and the negative incentives in 
column 7. These columns contain the specific spurs and checks to 
purposive activity. 

8, 9, and 10, The last three columns refer to different aspects 
of adaptive behavior itself rather than to the inducing conditions. 
Column 8 presents some characteristics of general activity. The 
reader will note that many persisting organic and environmental 
conditions induce a general restlessness, *>., a rise in the activity 
level; sometimes there is quiescence. From an interpretative point 
of view the general activity may be described as struggle, excite- 
ment, exploring, quiescence, etc. 

Column 9 lists the specific reactions which appear in the presence 
of incentives and appropriate organic and environmental states. 
Every one of these bits of behavior could easily be described in 
detail if 'one wished to add to the picture. Many of these reactions 
have been called by Sherrington and others the "consummatory 

The last column describes the final state of affairs after the drive 
has come to a close. This column specifies the goal or end-result 
towards which behavior moves. The types of behavior under con- 
sideration can be differentiated by reference to the end-states, which 
might also be called the natural or biological goals of life. 

In every case of adaptive behavior there are: (i) some persistent 
organic or environmental condition; (2) a release of energy through 
neural excitation from the persisting condition; (3) behavior 
which, though random at the start, generally becomes directed to- 
wards some definite goal; (4) a final reaction or adjustment which 
changes the inducing conditions and thus brings the drive to a 
close. When a drive has disappeared from behavior it does not re- 
turn until the inducing conditions are again present. With some 
drives the recurrence is periodic; with others it is sporadic and ac- 

The above analysis leads to a precise definition of drive. In the 
strictly physical sense, drive is energy which is released by com- 


piex bodily and environmental stimulations. This released energy 
is shown internally in bodily changes (physiological drive) -and out- 
wardly in behavior (behavioral drive). There are different views 
of a single motivational process, which might be called the mechani- 
cal, physiological, and behavioral aspects of drive. 

The definition of drive as energy must, of course, be broadened 
so as to take account of regulating and directing factors. There are 
distinct bodily mechanisms for releasing energy. Again, there are 
various internal and external conditions which furnish stimulation 
to the organism and which lead to energy release. With human 
motivation the regulating mechanisms may so markedly restrict 
behavior that one is likely to lose sight of the fact that motivation 
is essentially a process of energy transformation. Dogged determina- 
tion, grit, persistence in tasks which involve relatively little energy 
release thinking, tree-sitting, watching for someone to come home 
are essentially restricting and limiting conditions of energy re- 
lease rather than exciting conditions. Such factors will be consid- 
ered in Chapter V. 

Primary and Secondary Drives. Reference to the physio- 
logical state of an organism is a sound basis for differentiation be- 
tween primary and secondary drives. This, for example, was the 
ground of Tolman's distinction between two orders of drives. He 
stated that first-order drives are those dependent upon physiologi- 
cal needs. These are of two subclasses: (A) cravings (hunger, sex, 
fatigue demands, excretion demands, sensitive-zone demands) ; and 
(B) aversions (fear and pugnacity). Second-order drives, on the 
other hand, have no obvious physiological basis but are contributory 
to the first-order drives. Tolman gives the following examples of 
second-order drives: 

Curiosity: to get more stimulation from some distant and 

unfamiliar object. 

Gregariousness: to seek and stay in presence of others. 
Self-assertion: to dominate and control others. 
Self-abasement: to submit to others. 
Imitatit/eness: to copy the ends pursued by others. 

Second-order drives can be identified by the characteristic trend 


of gross behavior rather than by any purely physiological state. 
Both first- and second-order drives may be either positive or 

Tolman's distinction is similar to that of this author. We recog- 
nize that certain primary drives depend upon persistent organic 
states. A drive, in our sense, is primary when the physiological basis 
for the purposive behavior has been clearly demonstrated, and when 
it has been differentiated from the organic bases of other drives. 
Hunger, thirst, male and female sex behavior, maternal activity, 
and so on (pp. 103-131), are primary drives which can readily 
be differentiated in bodily terms. All other drives will tentatively 
be called secondary until a specific organic basis can be clearly 
demonstrated. Some secondary drives depend upon persisting en- 
vironmental conditions such as novelty, or the presence of other 
members of one's species (items 15 and 16, pp. 150-151). 

Still other secondary drives are built up within the developing 
personality in a social environment. These determinations are made 
understandable only by referring to the life history of the individual 
in relation to his social world. In this class are the peculiarly indi- 
vidual phobias, wishes, purposive determinations, tics, and the like. 

Inclinations to Act and Their Bodily Basis. If all the 
tissue needs of an organism could be met simultaneously, a condi- 
tion of quiescence and placidity would exist. Such a hypothetical 
state of indifference is represented by a point at the center of Fig. 41. 

If such a need-free organism were suddenly deprived of air, a 
condition of air hunger would quickly develop and its intensity be- 
come maximum in a short time. Restless movements and struggling 
would ensue ; if air were not obtained, the permanent quiescence of 
death would soon follow. Air deprivation has immediate physio- 
logical effects which are profound and widespread, and which 
quickly reach a maximum. Again, if the hypothetical need-free 
organism were deprived of water, other conditions remaining con- 
stant, restless movements would appear; in experienced organisms 
there would be water-seeking behavior. If water were not obtained, 
the animal would become weaker and increasingly depleted until 
death restored a permanent quiescence. 

The sexual urge is different from the others in that a permanent 


deprivation tends to destroy the species rather than the individual. 
Sexual drive varies in degree according to the organic state, the 
opportunity afforded for sexual activity, and many other conditions. 
These and similar inclinations can be examined from various 
points of view. To the behavioral psychologist an inclination is an 



The central point represents the hypothetical need-free state of an organism; the lines, 
possible directions in which inclinations develop. The departures from indifference can be 
regarded (from different points of view) as behavioral inclinations, as persisting physio- 
logical conditions, or as conscious demands (cravings and aversions). 

incipient movement or a preparatory set for some specific move- 
ment. To the physiologist an inclination is an internal bodily process 
or state which incites the organism. To the experiential psycholo- 
gist an inclination is a conscious demand, a craving or aversion. 
Despite these diff erences of viewpoint, it is here assumed that there 
is a single process going on in the organism. The term "inclination" 


refers to this process regardless of the viewpoint from which it 
may be observed. 

Each dimension implies the possibility of a continuous series of 
departures away from the hypothetical zero point. There are not 
only departures away from the zero point but also returnings to it. 

One of the dimensions is that of general activity. The level of 
activity as we have seen (pp. 52-65) varies with a host of conditions, 
such as the period of food deprivation, temperature, and hormone 
balance. With prolonged muscular activity, fatigue develops. There 
are varying degrees of fatigue from a mild demand for quiescence 
to a condition which the individual cannot voluntarily resist. Fatigue 
and sleep are both opposed to increase of activity; hence they are 
represented on opposite sides of the indifference point to general 

A number of the dimensions in Fig. 41 represent behavioral 
inclinations which depend upon well-defined inner and outer con- 
ditions. Examples are: the inclination of a mother to reach and 
nurse the litter, the inclination to vomit or to reject nauseating 
substances (represented by the nausea dimension), the inclination 
to defecate, to urinate, to avoid painful stimulation, to move toward 
warmth and away from the extremes of heat and cold. These in- 
clinations rest upon definite organic and environmental conditions. 

For most of the dimensions shown, the corresponding organic 
states can be differentiated, but this is not true of persistent moods 
of joy-elation and depression. Until the basis for persistent elation 
and depression is definitely known this dimension remains dif- 
ferent from the others In that a physiological foundation is assumed 
rather than demonstrated. Cases of manic-depressive insanity, how- 
ever, imply that there is some very specific bodily basis for patho- 
logical elation and depression. The states are functional opposites; 
it is quite correct to place them on the ends of a single line which 
passes through the indifference point. 

Separate dimensions for anger and fear have not been shown. 
The reason for this is that fear and anger are alike physiologically; 
the difference between them lies In the dynamic behavioral rela- 
tions between organism and outer situation, and in the correspond- 
ing mental attitudes of anxiety and hate. Fear, anger, as well as 
general excitement are all reactions to a biological emergency, which 


have not yet been differentiated on a purely bodily basis (pp. 


As explained in the previous section, the bodily state of an or- 
ganism is extremely complex, and the conditions which predispose 
it toward one activity or another are interrelated. Some inclinations 
are incompatible, as those to fatigue and heightened activity, to 
hunger and nausea, to anger and sex; others are compatible and 
often supplementary, as those of hunger, thirst, cold, pain-avoid- 
ance, and air hunger. 

At any given time the total organic state inclines the organism 
towards one kind of activity or another. The dimensions shown 
in Fig. 41 indicate some of the possible inclinations toward dif- 
ferent forms of activity. If one could map out all the significant 
dimensions, and determine at any moment the organism's exact 
degree of inclination along every dimension, representing the 
strength of each inclination by a point on the dimension, then the 
line joining these points would portray the total pattern of be- 
havioral inclinations at the moment. For example, at a given time 
an organism might be moderately fatigued, depressed, quite dis- 
tinctly inclined to sleep, with moderate hunger, having specific 
urges to urinate and to avoid a cold and painful environment. This 
hypothetical pattern of inclinations could be represented by an 
ameba-shaped figure made by joining the points on the various 

Actually what a man is inclined to do at a given instant depends 
upon the totality of complex conditions, differing in health and 
disease, in hunger and satiety, in cold and warmth, and so on. The 
total state is constantly changing, and one physiological variation 
is likely to have numerous interrelated effects, as we have pre- 
viously seen. The separate organic conditions are so interdependent 
that a complete analysis has not yet been made. The diagram in 
Fig. 41 pictures a preliminary analysis, based mainly upon the list 
of drives which have been differentiated physiologically. 

Moods. The term "mood" refers primarily to the persistent af- 
fective consciousness of an individual, but moods are also manifest 
in behavior. The organic conditions which determine the indi- 
vidual's inclinations to act determine also his feelings. One speaks 
of feeling depressed or elated, fatigued or ready-to-go, anxious, 


hungry? annoyed, satisfied, and so on. All these and similar persist- 
ent feelings depend directly upon the organic state, 

It is commonly known that good news, financial stress, success 
or failure in love, a game of golf, a concert, and many other events 
profoundly change one's mood. The effect of environmental condi- 
tions varies markedly from individual to individual 

To illustrate the changeableness of moods and their environmen- 
tal basis note the following description and comment by Mac- 

A man wakes in the morning, feels sluggish, does not want to 
get up, and succeeds in doing so only with effort. He forces him- 
self to go through his toilet ritual and dresses, although every min- 
ute sees a diminution in the effort he is called upon to make. This 
is like a miniature depression. He goes down to breakfast and is 
irritable because his coffee is cold; he scolds his wife and discovers 
some naughtiness in his children; after commenting harshly on this 
he retires huffily behind his newspaper. This mood accompanies 
him to his office, where he complains of the inefficiency of his 
staff. But soon a man comes in with whom he concludes an im- 
portant bit of business. Elation sets in and he makes mildly erotic 
advances to his stenographer. He lunches with some friends at his 
club, drinks a little, and becomes jovial, laughs boisterously at his 
own jokes. In the afternoon, it seems that the deal he thought was 
consummated may not be securely settled. He begins to worry over 
this and other transactions as well But soon he finds that his venture 
is going to go through and he returns home in a cheerful frame of 
mind. Here he repairs to the nursery, and runs around on his 
hands and knees with his children, uses baby talk and, in general, 
indulges in behavior that in any other environment would stamp 
him as insane. 

This picture is slightly, if at all, overdrawn. We do show variations 
in our reactions in the course of even a single day that are like 
those of manic-depressive insanity, although none of the changes 
are extreme as in the psychosis. In the main we see that these altera- 
tions are produced by variations in the environment. In manic-de- 
pressive insanity quite dramatic shifts occur without any discernible 
external causation. Now if we suppose that the stimuli, when a man 
is insane, come from within rather than without, a possible explana- 
tion is forthcoming. We know that the greater the intensity of a 
psychosis, the less is the contact with the surrounding world, the 


more, therefore, must the patient be living in an inner world of his 
own creation. 

The quotation from MacCurdy illustrates the Importance both of 
environmental and of organic factors in the determination of mood. 
It also shows the fact that moods are exhibited in behavior as well 
as consciously felt by an individual. It does not much matter 
whether one's interest centers in the descriptive analysis of conscious 
processes or in the facts and conditions of human behavior. In 
either case these persisting affective states continue as phases of a 
natural process, and the aim of psychology is to formulate princi- 
ples which are independent of any limited interest or viewpoint. 


Any serious consideration of drives leads sooner or later to an ex- 
amination of the traditional doctrine of instinct. The previous gen- 
eration of psychologists sometimes referred to instincts as if they 
were motivating factors. 

Opposed to this view are two modern descriptive definitions of 
the term. These current views of instinct call for serious considera- 

i. Instinct As Unlearned Reflex Behavior. Some patterns 
of behavior are clearly present at birth; others appear later in the 
life cycle of the organism quite apart from practice and training. 
Web-building in the spider, the pecking reaction of the chick, cry- 
ing in the infant, are examples of unlearned activities. These be- 
havior patterns are common to all members of the species, and 
appear in the appropriate environmental situation independently 
of training. 

Some unlearned activities are relatively simple, such as constric- 
tion of the pupil when a bright light is thrown upon the eye, with- 
drawal of the hand or foot from a painful stimulation, and the 
vegetative reactions involved in circulation, respiration, ingestion, 
digestion, and excretion through the skin, colon, and bladder. Other 
activities are much more complex. The serial reactions of insects 
in nest-building, egg-laying, mating, locomotion, involve reflexes 
which are chained or linked together into a complex pattern. Her- 
bert Spencer defined instinct as compound reflex action; but the 


difference between simple and compound reflex action is obviously 
a relative and arbitrary one. 

An excellent illustration of unlearned behavior can be found in 
Carmichael's experiment with embryos of the frog (Rana sylvatica) 
and salamander (Amblystoma punctatum). In this work larvae 
were raised from fertilized eggs in a chloretone solution, which was 
weakly anesthetic, inhibiting movement but not growth. 

When the solution was removed and the embryos were placed 
in ordinary tap-water, they began to move and responded to ex- 
ternal stimulation in periods of time averaging less than twelve 
minutes. "In varying lengths of time after this first movement, 
but in all cases in less than thirty minutes, the previously drugged 
embryos showed coordinated swimming movements. In fact a num- 
ber of the eighteen amblystoma embryos swam so well in less than 
one half hour after they had shown the first sign of movement, 
that they could with difficulty, if at all, be distinguished from the 
members of the control group who had been free swimmers for 
five days." 

The appearance of these coordinated movements of legs, trunk, 
and tail in swimming, when no opportunity for practice could 
possibly have existed, is conclusive evidence that these locomotor 
reactions are congenital. 

Further illustrations are found in the work of Tilney and Kubie, 
and of Stone. Tilney and Kubie plotted out the stream of behavioral 
development in the rat, the cat, and the guinea pig. Reactions of 
the kitten such as turning the eyes and head, sitting, lapping, ap- 
pear suddenly on the fourteenth, twentieth, and twenty-ninth days, 
respectively. Other reactions develop more gradually over a period 
of days. Crawling, for example, is present on the first day of the 
kitten's life and continues to develop through the sixteenth day. 
With the guinea pig many reactions are present at birth or appear 
suddenly during the first day. 

Stone demonstrated that sexual reactions of the adolescent albino 
rat develop quickly within a period of a few days. It is likely that 
the sexual reactions depend upon the introduction into the blood 
stream of a chemical factor coincident with maturing of the repro- 
ductive glands. Stone's work suggests that the process of maturing 
has at least two aspects: (i) the development of neuromuscular 


structures, and (2) the development of the glandular organs which 
secrete hormones Into the blood. Structural maturation is thus the 
basis of behavioral maturation. 

The unlearned reflexes, whether simple or compound-^ must be 
explained in the following terms: (i) the stimulation of receptors; 
(2) the structure of the body, especially the structure of the nervous 
system; (3) the chemical agents which regulate the excitability of 
reactions; and (4) the process of maturation. Bodily structures ma- 
ture at various stages of growth; along with this maturation some 
behavior patterns appear and others vanish. 

2. Instinct As Umearned Purposive Behavior. There are 
those who believe that the principle of reflex action is inadequate to 
explain instinctive behavior. "INSTINCT" wrote William James, "is 
usually defined as the faculty of acting in such a way as to produce 
certain ends, without foresight of the ends, and without previous 
education in the performance!' 

Before we consider this view of the instinct doctrine critically it is 
well to have concrete examples before us. Instincts are most clearly 
apparent in the behavior of insects whose complicated activities 
produce certain results "without foresight of the ends, and without 
previous education in the performance." McDougall has described 
the behavior of the wasp as follows: 

The wasp., while building her cell, seems wholly dominated by 
the one tendency. She seems indifferent to other appeals, e.g., to food 
and to male wasps. She is concentrated on her task. The one ten- 
dency seems to have right of way and to make use of all her motor 
capacities and powers of adaptation. Hour after hour she flies busily 
to and fro, bringing her pellets of clay and working them into her 
cell. Such concentrated activity with great output of energy is char- 
acteristic of instinctive behaviour. Interruption may occur; but the 
creature returns to her task as the magnetic needle swings back 
to the pole after forcible deflection. And when the natural end or 
goal of that train of activity is attained, she desists, flies away and 
seems to have no further interest in the matter. It is not that the 
apparatus is worn out. It is not that the creature is exhausted. In 
respect of this directed activity, sustained until the natural end or 
goal is reached and then abruptly terminating, our mechanical 
analogy breaks down; and here again the reflex-theory of instinctive 
action is inadequate. Such persistence of activity until, and only 



until, the natural goal Is reached is one of the objective marks of 
the teleological, purposive, or goal-seeking nature of the whole train 

of activity. 

Human behavior, as truly as animal, exhibits instincts. In a re- 
cent book McDougall has listed the following, changing the name 
from "instinct" to "propensity": 

1. To seek (and perhaps to store) food (food-seeking propensity). 

2. To reject and avoid certain noxious substances (disgust pro- 
pensity) . 

3. To court and mate (sex propensity). 

4. To flee to cover in response to violent impressions that inflict 
or threaten pain or injury (fear propensity). 

5. To explore strange places and things (curiosity propensity). 

6. To feed, protect and shelter the young (protective or parental 
propensity) . 

7. To remain in company with fellows and, if isolated, to seek 
that company (gregarious propensity). 

8. To domineer, to lead, to assert oneself over, or display one- 
self before, one's fellows (self-assertive propensity). 

9. To defer, to obey, to follow, to submit in the presence of others 
who display superior powers (submissive propensity). 

10. To resent and forcibly to break down any thwarting or re- 
sistance offered to the free exercise of any other tendency (anger 

11. To cry aloud for assistance when our efforts are utterly baffled 
(appeal propensity). 

12. To construct shelters and implements (constructive pro- 

13. To acquire, possess, and defend whatever is found useful or 
otherwise attractive (acquisitive propensity). 

14. To laugh at the defects and failures of our fellow-creatures 
(laughter propensity). 

15. To remove, or to remove oneself from, whatever produces 
discomfort, as by scratching or by change of position and location 
(comfort propensity). 

16. To lie down, rest and sleep when tired (rest or sleep pro- 

17. To wander to new scenes (migratory propensity). 

18. A group of very simple propensities subserving bodily needs, 
such as coughing, sneezing, breathing, evacuation. 



It will be noted that McDougalPs list of propensities is a classi- 
fication based upon observation and analysis of the things men 
actually do. 

Koffka is another psychologist who has denied the validity of the 
view that an instinct is a series of reflexes chained together into 
a mechanical series. A more correct picture, he believes, is that of 
behavioral trends which move in a fixed direction until certain 
requirements have been met. "Consider the building of a nest. One 
cannot say at any particular stage in its construction that the bird 
will now make this or that movement; one can say, however, that 
the bird must now fulfil this or that require- 

Koffka distinguished between "closed" and 
"unclosed" physiological systems to account 
for the fact that behavior as a whole shows 
"closure" or the tendency toward completion 
of non-completed activities. The view does 
not imply any vital force. 
FIG. 42. REPRESENTATION Behavioral tendencies, as Kohler has 


TOWARD AN END-STATE OF pointed out, exist in the physical world. As 
EQUILIBRIUM (explanation an example of a physical tendency consider 

m exf )- n r - i 

a nat pan or water with a positive static 
charge on some object in the center, Fig. 42. On the surface of the 
water are several corks, each carrying a small object with a negative 
charge. Regardless of where the corks are placed or how they are 
initially disturbed, they gradually arrange themselves into a sym- 
metrical pattern about the central positive charge in accordance with 
the physical principles of resolution of magnetic forces. It is correct to 
speak of a tendency towards physical equilibrium, and this manner of 
speech implies no vital force, no awareness of purpose on the part of 
the charged bodies.* 

Similarly when a dog chases a rabbit the course of his behavior 
follows that of the rabbit. The dog jumps fences, fords streams, 
climbs obstacles, digs and all these actions are directed toward the 
rabbit-goal. In such an example it is hardly correct to speak of 
chained reflexes or even of habits, because the situation calling out 

* This illustration was used by Kohler in a lecture at Berlin. 


the behavior is never twice the same. The significant feature is the 
direction of behavior towards a goal or end-result. 

McDougall states that an instinct is to be defined and recognized 
not by the kind of movements in which it finds expression but 
rather by the kind of change in the animal's environment which 
brings the train of behavior to a close. This suggests Koffka's clos- 
ure theory; it suggests Raup's complacency doctrine, and the previ- 
ous discussion of homeostasis and equilibrium (pp. 81-84). 

Critique of the Instinct Doctrine. There have been so 
many criticisms of the instinct doctrine that it would be misleading 
to drop the topic without first pointing out a few of the difficulties 
and objections to the conception. 

i. The difficulty of demonstrating which elements of behavior 
are learned and which unlearned. One difficulty with the investiga- 
tion of instincts is that of determining how far the activity in ques- 
tion is really unlearned and how far it is acquired. We commonly 
assume, for example, that cats kill mice and rats instinctively, but 
the Chinese psychologist, Kuo, has reported a study which throws 
doubt on this assumption. Several groups of cats were reared in 
different environments, some with rats as cage companions and 
others only with cats. The cats reared with rats never killed a rat 
of the same species although there was ample opportunity to do so, 
whereas the other cats, reared with rat-killing mothers, themselves 
became rat-killers at the age of four months. Kuo argued that, if 
there is a rat-killing instinct in cats, there is also an instinct to love 
them. All depends upon the environment. 

Another instance in point is that described by Admiral Byrd in 
a lecture upon the South Pole. He and his men found penguins 
on the ice which never before had seen human beings. These strange 
birds showed not the slightest fear when the men approached and 
the dogs barked at them. Byrd remarked, "Where there is nothing 
to fear, fear is undeveloped. 57 Do the penguins actually lack an in- 
stinct to fear? Would fear develop in an environment of constant 

The environment, it has been argued, is an all-important factor 
in calling forth types of behavior generally regarded as instinctive. 
The organism, from fertilized egg to death, is constantly interacting 
with its environment: it is never easy to say just how much develop- 


ment depends upon reaction to the environment and how much 
upon those chemical determiners of growth which reside in the 

In such activities as food-seeking and nest-building there are both 
learned and unlearned factors. The unlearned factors are found 
in the bodily structures and the tissue conditions which determine 
the drive. The learned factors can be referred to the particular en- 
vironments of an organism. Purposes are built up out of purpose- 
less reactions; goal-directed behavior often comes into existence 
gradually; but it is always difficult to put one's finger on the un- 
learned factors of goal-directed behavior. 

2, The fallacy of hypostatization. Another difficulty with the in- 
stinct doctrine is the common assumption that "instincts" explain 
behavior. When stated bluntly the fallacy of hypostatization is 
clearly apparent: Monkeys swing through the trees in small groups 
or gangs. Why? Because they have a "gregarious instinct?" But 
how does one know that monkeys have a "gregarious instinct? 5 ' 
Why, because they travel in groups! 

Holt has stated this objection to the instinct doctrine in the fol- 
lowing words: ". . . man is impelled to action, it is said, by his 
instincts. If he goes with his fellows, it is the 'herd instinct' which 
actuates him; if he walks alone, it is the 'anti-social instinct'; if 
he fights, it is the instinct of 'pugnacity'; if he defers to another, 
it is the instinct of 'self-abasement'; if he twiddles his thumbs, 
it is the thumb-twiddling instinct; if he does not twiddle his thumbs, 
it is the thumb-not-twiddling instinct. Thus everything is explained 
with the facility of magic word magic." 

Instincts, in a sense, have been invented by the psychologists and 
philosophers. They may describe unlearned patterns of behavior, 
but they really explain nothing. Instincts are not motivating agents. 

3, The difficulty of classification. There is another difficulty which 
has to do with the classification of instincts. Any classification of 
behavioral tendencies in terms of purpose is arbitrary; there are 
as many possible classifications as there are classifiers. One can 
argue convincingly that behavior has but one purpose, one instinct, 
which is preservation of life. One can claim equally well that there 
are two instincts, self-preservation and race-preservation. Or one 
can insist that there are three, four, six, ten, forty, or a hundred, 


depending upon one's purpose in classifying. Or with Kuo one can 
maintain that there are no instincts! All depends upon the bias or 
point of view of the classifier; and one a priori system is super- 
ficially about as good as another. 

A propos of the difficulty with classification is the following amus- 
ing incident related by a distinguished economist. When a young 
man, he and his bride decided to keep accounts, and agreed to list 
all expenditures in two books. One was entitled "household ex- 
penditures/' and the other with gold tetters was marked "the higher 
life." All went well until the young husband discovered that four 
loads of manure, purchased for the garden, had been entered under 
"household expenditure." He objected to the classification. His bride, 
on the other hand, was unwilling to place the item under "the 
higher life." The final outcome was a discontinuance of the ac- 
counting system. Any classification is likely to meet with difficulties 
the moment one becomes critical of it. 

A classification is for convenience only. If a system of instincts, 
such as that of McDougall or Thorndike, is practically useful, there 
is no reason why one should not employ it. 

In conclusion, the author believes that the term "instinct" is 
useful to describe unlearned patterns of behavior (reflexes), and 
to refer to the innate factor in learned purposive activities such as 
food-seeking, mating, and so on. The word itself explains nothing. 

Explanation of instinctive behavior must be sought along various 
lines. First, one can explain by giving a detailed account of bodily 
mechanisms. Second, one can explain by tracing out the growth 
of bodily structures and the concurrent maturation of behavior. 
Third, one can explain by showing how purposive behavior is ac- 
quired out of random meaningless activity in the process of learn- 


The student of motivation can hardly avoid noticing the purpo- 
sive character of drives. In fact, the fundamental urges are best 
described by reference to their goals or end-situations. 

In many cases the directing of behavior towards a goal is ob- 
viously acquired. To illustrate, the rat learns to run a maze in the 
shortest path from starting-box to food. During the first few trials 


there is random activity, but if food is repeatedly found at the same 
spot, the aimlessness of behavior disappears. The rat learns to start 
right out in a businesslike manner as if determined to go some- 

In every instance of persistent purposive behavior in which the 
animal appears to be seeking some objective, definite motivation is 
present in the background. Usually, if not always, purposive seek- 
ing implies the previous existence of a process of learning and past 
experiences by means of which the goal-oriented behavior developed. 

In the laboratory, when an animal is given a problem to be solved 
or a task to be learned, the first essential is to provide adequate 
motivation. Theoretically, any kind of genuine motivation may 
induce learning. 

What Kinds of Motivation Have Actually Been Used in 
Experiments upon Animal Learning? In 1921, Maupin re- 
viewed seventeen studies upon the acquisition of animal behavior 
and listed the incentives used, with the following result: 

Food, with hunger, used ten times. 

Escape from confinement or release, used four times. 

Punishment, used twice. 

Society, shade, nest, each used once. 

In the experimental literature upon animal learning, various in- 
centives and motives have been utilized. The light-avoiding reac- 
tion of cockroaches, for example, has been made use of by Turner 
and by Szymanski. Roaches are nocturnal animals which "love 
darkness rather than light." When placed in a bright light they 
scamper hither and thither until a dark place some hole or crevice 
is found into which they immediately rush. By means of an elec- 
tric shock used as punishment, roaches were trained to avoid en- 
tering a specific dark place. The number of trials necessary to es- 
tablish this habit varied with the individual subject. Szymanski 
trained ten cockroaches to avoid the dark on ten successive trials; 
the insects learned to do this after the following numbers of trials, 
respectively: 37, 28, 116, 16, 96, 44, 32, 23, 37, 118. The figures show 
considerable variation in learning time. 

Turner also found marked individual differences in the learning 
and retention of cockroaches. He states that the negative reaction 


to light is not a tropism, in Loeb's sense, because there was no 
orientation to the rays of light. There was simply restless, random 
behavior which ceased only in the dark. The avoidance of light In 
the roach thus appears to be a basic drive which depends upon some 
effect of persistent light stimulation. 

Another type of motivation which has been used in learning ex- 
periments is the urge to escape from water. In an attempt to find 
a practically useful type of motivation other than hunger (which 
has been used the most frequently of all) Ruch tested the escape- 
from-water incentive. White rats were forced to swim the maze, 
and a record was kept of time and errors. Under these conditions 
the animals learned the maze. After a careful analysis of the types 
of errors and of the time scores Ruch concluded that the drive to 
escape from water is well adapted to the study of animal learning, 
and that the method has especial value when it is necessary to em- 
ploy a form of motivation which is independent of hunger. 

A different result was obtained by MacGillivray and Stone when 
rats were required to wade through the maze. In this experiment, 
the impulse to escape-from-water added nothing to hunger in speed- 
ing up the learning of a discrimination habit. This is not surprising, 
since wading is distinctly different from swimming in that it does 
not limit the ease of breathing. Swimming, on the other hand, 
forces the animal to be active In order to breathe. One obvious 
energy-releasing factor which needs to be controlled in experiments 
utilizing both swimming and wading is the temperature of the 

Various other types of motivation have been used in the study of 
learning. Szymanski, in 1918, in a survey of motivating conditions, 
raised a fundamental question when he asked: "What kinds of 
motivation can evoke animal learning?" After considering the avail- 
able evidence and making a number of experiments he concluded: 

1. Hunger is sufficiently strong to motivate maze learning with 
rats and dogs. 

2. Pain is adequate as an incentive to learning; as, for example, 
an electric shock with white mice,, or a mechanical blow with canary 

3. Limitation of freedom and of tke ease of breathing 3 as in a gold- 
fish placed in shallow water, evokes learning of a labyrinth. 


4. Social motivation has proved effective in the maze learning of 
ants (Field) and of chicks (Thorndike). 

5. Mere return to the nest, of itself, furnishes weak and insuffi- 
cient incentive for learning, for white rats. 

6. The maternal drive is strong enough to produce learning with 
some female rats but not with all. (Cf. Warden, p. 149.) 

Szymanski also worked out three important general principles: 

1. If the motivation under which an act was learned is removed, 
the act becomes less well performed; for example, if rats have 
learned a maze when hungry, they make more errors and are more 
variable in their performance when satiated. 

2. If an animal is led or forced through the maze along the true 
path, in other words if he is "put through," this does not facilitate 
subsequent learning of the same maze under an adequate motivation 
such as hunger. 

3. If an animal fails to learn the maze because of inadequate 
motivation, but nevertheless goes through it, exploring actively, this 
facilitates subsequent learning when adequate motivation is pro- 

These three principles are important from the standpoint of the 
theory of motivation. They emphasize the general truth stated earlier 
in this section that some motivation is necessary in experiments 
upon animal learning; without it the animal simply will not con- 
tinue to work upon his task. Putting it still more broadly, the first 
essential in all animal experimentation, whether it be upon learn- 
ing, discrimination, delayed reaction, thinking, or other psychologi- 
cal problem, is to supply adequate motivation. Professor Washburn 
has stated this basic principle concisely in the quotation which 
heads Chapter III (p. 87). 

After looking over the experiments described in the literature 
upon animal motivation, one can summarize as follows the main 
factors which have led to learning: hunger combined with different 
kinds of food, thirst, pain-punishment with electric shocks and 
blows, immersion in water with escape by swimming or wading, 
limitation of freedom and release from such confinement, restric- 
tion of breathing, removal of the litter from the mother, removal 
of animal from the nest, presence of sexual mate, presence of a com- 
panion in a social situation, high or low temperature of water in 


swimming tank, auditory stimulation from a continuously sounding 
electric buzzer, bright light for light-shy animals. 

H we inquire, "What kinds of motivation effectively induce 
human learning?" many varieties must be added to the above list. 
Social forms of motivation praise, reproof, rewards, penalties, com- 
petition, rivalry, prestige, and so on all lead to human learning. 
The variety of effective rewards such as prizes, money, and vari- 
ous symbols as badges, loving cups, honor rolls, is much greater 
with human subjects than with animals. Self-esteem plays a more 
important motivating role with human beings. Verbal commands, 
instructions, and orders are efficacious. 

Does Unmotlvated Learning Occur? This question has 
frequently been asked. The answer, like that to so many other 
questions, depends entirely upon one's definition of terms. 

If the sphere of motivational psychology be limited arbitrarily 
to the study of purposive behavior, it is clear that unmotivated learn- 
ing does occur. That is to say, the neural organization of an in- 
dividual may become modified quite apart from any specific 
goal-seeking or conscious intention. Consider a man who happens 
to witness a horrible accident. His observing, running, screaming, 
trembling, and so on, leave lasting impressions upon his neural or- 
ganization; the individual's subsequent behavior and conscious ex- 
periences are different because of these chance reactions. This might 
reasonably be called an example of unmotivated learning. 

If, on the other hand, the field of motivational psychology be 
defined broadly enough to include the causal explanation of all 
organic movements that go to make up behavior, whether goal- 
directed or not, then every reaction and every modification of reac- 
tion is, by definition, motivated. The statement simply means that 
every modification of behavior is causally determined. 

The author prefers the broader formulation of the basic problem 
of motivational psychology, which implies that all learning is moti- 
vated. Part of our task is to study the ways in which purposive 
behavior develops out of aimless activity. Purposes themselves are 
learned or acquired; how they develop will now be considered. 

The Acquiring of Position Goals and Spatial Orientation. 
One sometimes hears it said that insects and other animals find 


their way about by means of a mysterious "sixth sense" or an in- 
stinct of direction. The statement is generally supported by anec- 
dotes of a marvelous nature. Who has not heard storks of pet cats 
and dogs finding their way home from great distances ? 

Careful studies of bees, wasps, and other flying insects, however, 
have shown that they learn to find their way about by relying upon 
sensory cues, mainly visual ones. Walking insects depend upon 
olfactory cues or an olfactory trail. Carrier pigeons, cats, and dogs 
return home from great distances only when they have had an op- 
portunity to explore the vicinity of their homes or when by chance 
they make contact with a previously explored territory. 

In other words, there is no scientifically sound evidence for a 
"sixth sense" of direction, but much for the view that animals 
learn to find their way about by depending upon ordinary sensory 
aids. Orientation in space is thus to a large extent acquired. 

This is obviously true of the rat In a maze. When first placed in 
the labyrinth a hungry animal explores, and discovers food by 
chance. With repeated trials the entrances to blind alleys tend to 
drop out. Finally the rat runs continuously from start to goal; his 
path is direct; he appears to know where he is going and why. 

An illustration of a typical laboratory set-up for studying learning 
and motivation with rats is presented in Plate V. In running the 
maze a rat is confronted with a series of right-left choices. For 
example, at the start there is a choice between the blind alley, 
shown at 2, and the correct path, 3. At the end of 3 there Is 
another choice between the blind alley, 4, and a true path leading 
toward 7 and so on. 

Another example of the acquiring of spatial orientation Is found 
In one of Yerkes's studies with the green frog. This animal's urge 
to escape from bright light and to return to water furnished motiva- 
tion for his behavior in the experiment. In addition, an electric 
shock was administered for wrong choices. With this combined 
motivation the frog learned to escape by a direct path. 

The general plan of the apparatus is shown in Fig. 43. A blind 
alley to the animal's Bright, shown in the upper diagram, was 
painted red. Vision of the red surface, and the constant need for 
turning at first to the left, both proved to be important factors in 
establishing the habit. 



After the labyrinth had been completely learned the frog hopped 
along a direct path from start to exit. The red cul de sac was then 
changed from the animal's right to his left, and the exit was simi- 
larly changed. The path of the frog on the first trial after reversal 
is shown in the lower diagram of Fig. 43. Note that there was at 
first a persistence at the left of the apparatus despite the red color 

logical Laboratory, courtesy of E. E. Anderson.) 

A movable starting-box may be seen in the left foreground, and a movable goal-box, 
similarly located, at the right. The mirrors and lights above the maze make it possible for 
the experimenter to observe the rat in all positions and to record his progress from start 
to finish. The strings are for the purpose of closing the pathway at certain points after the 
rat has made a choice, in order to prevent retracing of the maze. 

signal there; the thoroughly learned spatial habit of turning to the 
left still dominated behavior under reversed conditions. When 
finally the frog moved forward beyond the blind there was an 
equally determined attempt to escape from the maze at the right, 
which had been correct before the maze pattern was reversed. The 
animal failed completely to make an escape and was finally re- 
moved from the labyrinth. 


The important point is that the spatial habit of the frog, to turn 
first to the left and then to the right, persisted despite a complete 
reversal of conditions. There were many changes of bodily posture 
as the frog hopped about; certainly overt posture could not have 
been the determinant of this behavior. 

Upper curve shows path of frog with a perfectly formed habit; dots represent the 
sequence of jumps from position to position. Lower curve shows path of frog on the first 
trial after a reversal of the usual conditions. 

Similarly, when a rat runs the maze or when a bee is flying back 
to the hive there is constant change in bodily posture, but despite 
this fact the animals find their way about. Obviously an acquired 
inner organization is the basis of spatial habits. Psychologists have 
assumed that this organization lies within the nervous system. 

An interesting example of spatial orientation was described to the 
author by Malcolm Campbell. A police dog had been trained to 
carry his tail between his teeth. During an exhibition of this trick 
the trainer usually stood at a distance and ordered the dog to bring 
his tail The dog then picked up his tail and walked to the trainer. 


The path followed by the animal is the point that interests us 
here. It was in the form of an epicycle, shown approximately in 
Fig. 44. The curve of the path had two components, the first, rota- 
tional; the second, linear. The rotational component clearly de- 
pended upon the postural adjustment of the animal; his head was 
constantly oriented toward his tail, and because of this, progressive 
walking was walking in a circle. The linear component depended 
upon the position of the trainer, and an inner set of the dog to 
approach him. 

In going to the trainer the dog's eyes and head were at times 
actually facing directly away from him; nevertheless steady prog- 
ress was made in the intended direction. How was this possible? 

V^N^" "~N/" X 

A A A 

' \ / > /I 
i i it , i 

As seen from above there is a circular component shown by the broken line and a linear 
component shown by the arrow. 

Some inner determination gave the directional orientation of the 
body, and this was dominant despite complete bodily rotation. 

It is probable that the linear progression depended mainly upon 
vision, and that despite rotation there were frequent visual adjust- 
ments to the trainer's position in the field. Conceivably, hearing or 
other sensory processes may have played some part. Even so, one 
must assume a determination or set "to go to the master" which 
directed behavior. 

The experiment can be duplicated under human conditions by 
instructing the subject to move toward a door or other fixed posi- 
tion while turning around and around so as to face all directions 
as does a toe dancer. If this be done with eyes open, it will be noticed 
that the general orientation towards the door or other goal is 
visually determined. At all times one is aware of the lay of the 
land. With eyes closed the orientation is still retained in visual 



imagery,, and muscular strains and pressures play a part in the 
process. The writer has been told by a young woman who is an ex- 
pert toe dancer that she always fixates some light or bright object 
for orientation while spinning around, and then rotates her head 
quickly so as to fixate the same object on the next whirl 

When an animal or man goes in a definite direction we say he 
has a purpose. Feed the cat once or twice at the back door, and the 
creaking sound of this opening door brings her quickly to the spot. 
The purposive character of her behavior has been acquired, for at 
the start that particular door-creaking sound did not bring her. 
The acquired neural organization is latent as the cat roams about 
the yard, but when the auditory stimulation occurs 'it builds up in 
her a motor adjustment which directs pussy to the doorstep. 

In the above examples several psychological principles are revealed, 
(i) Spatial orientations are maintained by peripheral cues. (2) 
Animals learn to find their way about in space, building up neural 
organization in the process. (3) Behavior is dominated by inner 
determinations which utilize the acquired organization, and are 
restricted by it. 

The Goal Gradient. The goal-gradient hypothesis, formulated 
by Hull, states that as an animal approaches the goal-box of a 
maze the speed of running tends to increase with positive accelera- 
tion. The level of excitability varies inversely with the distance be- 
tween animal and goal, according to a logarithmic law. 

To measure the goal gradient Hull devised a straight forty-foot 
runway for timing the speed of locomotion of rats as they ran 
from a starting place at one end of the pathway to a food reward 
at the other. The path of this apparatus was broken into eight five- 
foot sections by valves of stiff cardboard which the rats lifted in 
running toward the food. These valves prevented retracing of the 
path, and also made electrical contacts which were used in timing 
the running speed. 

The results indicate clearly that a hungry rat runs faster and 
faster as he approaches the food. Just before he reaches the goal, 
however, the speed of locomotion is slightly retarded. Practice tends 
to speed up the animal in all sections of the runway, but this effect 
is more pronounced in the first sections. Practice thus tends to level 
off the speed-of-locomotion gradient. 



After leveling through practice, the original steep gradient can 
readily be restored by creating conditions which render the motiva- 
tion less effective. One of these conditions is the removal of reward. 
Figure 45 presents the results of one of Hull's experiments in the 
form of a graph which shows the effect of removing the reward. 
Another means of restoring the steep gradient is by feeding the 
animals before letting them 
run to the food. Satiation re- 
moves the drive and in this 
way restores and even ac- 
centuates the original steep 
gradient. Figure 46 shows 
the effect of satiation upon 
the goal gradient 

Compound gradients can 
be produced by training the 
animals on twenty feet of 
the runway and then extend- 
ing the runway to forty feet. 




12 1 






RUNWAY. (After Hull.) 
The solid line shows the speed-of- 
locomotion gradient on the first and 
second days. The dotted line shows the 
gradient on the sixth and seventh days, 
after practice. The dash line shows the 
restoration of the steeper gradient by 
frustration, i.e., by removal of food 
after complete learning. Each point on 
the curve is the mean of 135 or 140 
time measurements. 






Days 1 and 2 

Days 6 and 7 

-- After Frustration 

Sections of the Runway 

The contours of these compound gradients are rapidly obliterated 
by training. 

The goal-gradient principle implies that in learning a maze the 
order of elimination of blind alleys will tend to be in a backward 
direction from goal to starting-box. Experiments by Spence, Tol- 
man, Ruch, and others have in fact confirmed the hypothesis that 
nearness to the goal in space and time favors rapid learning. On 

i 7 8 


after satiation 

before satiation 

the average, the blind alleys of a maze are eliminated in a back- 
ward order from goal to starting-box. 

Casual observation suggests that a principle equivalent to the goal 
gradient is operative in human behavior. If, for example, one has 
a definite objective such as sailing to Europe on June 16, one senses 
a general increase of excitement and activity as the time for depar- 
ture draws nigh. If the goal is to at- 
tend a football game, the excitement 
grows markedly witfi the approach of 
the hour. The more important the 
event to the individual the more pro- 
nounced is this phenomenon. If the 
date for an election has been set, the 
activity and general excitement in- 
crease markedly with the approach of 
the voting day. The more important 
the issue of the election the more ob- 
vious is this gradient of excitement. 
Persons who plan a political campaign 
schedule their speeches, mass meet- 












Sections of the Runway 

FOOT RUNWAY. (Ajter Hull.} 

The lower curve represents the means from three 
days on which hungry rats were rewarded with 
food. Inasmuch as the animals were habituated to 
the apparatus before the experiment, the gradient 
is fairly level. The upper curve shows restoration 
oi a pronounced gradient when the rats were 
satiated and the hunger drive thus removed before 
the runs. The days for hunger and satiation tests 
were interspersed. Each point on the lower graph 
represents a mean of 200 time measurements; each 
point on the upper graph is a mean from 115 

ings, demonstrations, and similar events with increasing frequency 
as the fateful day approaches, thus unconsciously acting as if there 
were a logarithmic law in the activity gradient relative to the goal 
of voting. 
Again, there is in man an obvious leveling-off of the activity 



gradient with practice. If the goal be making a speech or playing 
a concert, the beginner is known to be markedly aware of a steep 
gradient of excitement, whereas the seasoned professional has much 
less excitement and a more level activity gradient. He attributes 
the difference to a feeling of confidence and assurance in his abil- 
ity; this feeling, however, does not constitute a genuine explanation 
but rather it is a fact of experience which itself needs to be explained 
by reference to habituation. 

The Bodily Basis for Knowledge, Foresight, and Purpose. 
Hull believes that the bodily mechanisms of habit also determine 
knowledge, foresight, and purpose. His ingenious explanation of 
purpose is worthy of careful consideration. 

The physical world, Hull states, contains many uniform sequences 
of events which may be symbolized by: 

Some of ^these events are cyclic, as the breaking of the waves upon 
the shore, the sequence of day and night, the swinging of a pendu- 
lum; others are aperiodic, as the washing away of a road by a storm, 
the rolling of a stone down the hill, the growth of a single tree. 
These sequences in the environment of an organism present uni- 
form sequences of stimulation which evoke series of reactions, thus : 

The World 

The Organism R l R 2 R 3 R 4 

To be specific, if the series of Ss symbolizes the sound waves from 
a piano in the environment of a boy, the Rs stands for his reactions 
to the sound stimulations. 

Now a highly developed organism, possessing receptors located 
within the muscles, joints, tendons, and visceral organs, is excited by 
its own reactions through its proprioceptors. Hence there exists an 
internal sequence of stimulations corresponding to the reaction 
series, just as the latter in turn corresponds to outer environmental 
events. Using the symbol s to designate the internal stimulations 
from the organism's own reactions, the picture can next be elab- 
orated as follows: 


VW\ \ 

The Organism R 1 ^Sj R 2 >s 2 R 3 >s 3 R 4 *-s 4 R 5 

Now if the sequence of reactions is repeated, a habit is formed. 
The proprioceptive stimulus pattern (si) from one reaction comes 
to call out the response (R 2 ) associated with it. Through direct 
conditioning all the responses become linked together into a se- 
quence. In the following figure a dotted rectangle symbolizes the 
total stimulus complex (environmental and organic) evoking a 
response. An arrow with a dotted line indicates a newly established 
and hence a relatively weak associative bond. 

The World 
The Organism 

Although the sequence of reactions, 

originally depended upon some uniformity in the physical en- 
vironment, through a process of conditioning it acquires an inde- 
pendence of the world. If, after learning, the outer sequence begins 
in the presence of the organism and is interrupted, the series of newly 

acquired reactions may continue, thus: 

The World S x 


The Organism R l *. Sl >R 2 > s 2 >R 3 >- s 3 >R 4 * s 4 >R 5 

->R 2 ^S 2 -J->R 3 >% J ,->R 4 

This is increasingly true as the series becomes well learned. If, for 
example, one hears the letters A B C D E F, the further subvocal 
reactions G H I ... are likely to occur. If a well-known melody is 
suddenly interrupted, the listener is likely to complete it. 

In other words, the world stamps its pattern upon the organism. 
The redintegrative sequences can run off by themselves independ- 
ently of any world sequence, once they have gotten a start. It is 
this process which occurs in serial reactions such as repeating a 
well-learned verse, or telling an old yarn. It is the same process 



which enables us to anticipate the thunder and rain when the light- 
ning flashes. This ability to anticipate impending events has great 
biological value; organisms possessing it to the highest degree, other 
things being equal, are the ones most likely to survive. 

In some habits, such as reciting a poem or typing a certain word, 
all the reactions have to be made in sequence. In other habits the 
intermediate reactions are useless or even wasteful. A child, for 
example, has been taught the multiplication tables in parrot-like 
fashion. If he wants to know the product of nine and six, he runs 
through the table of nines up to six, counting on his fingers until 
he arrives at the result fifty-four. A reduction in the amplitude and 
number of these intermediate counting reactions would be advan- 
tageous. Actually they tend to drop out with continued learning as 
do the entrances to blind alleys in a maze. How does this come 
about ? 

In situations which give rise to purposive activities there is always 
a persisting stimulation. If the animal is hungry there is the recur- 
ring cramp of the digestive tract. If cold, there is the persisting 
thermal stimulation from the environment. If puzzled by a prob- 
lem, there is perhaps a continuous knitting of the brows. If annoyed 
by a dazzling light, there is the persisting light stimulation on the 
retina. The persisting stimulus is an essential feature of every drive. 
For this reason it is symbolized by Sa, and added to the diagram as 
follows : 

The World 

The Organism 



_ J 

The drive stimulus is unique in that it becomes the one constant 
conditioning stimulus to all the reactions in the series, whereas the 
other stimulus patterns are incessantly changing. 

The multiplicity of excitatory tendencies which the drive stimulus 
evokes can be represented in this way: 


The Organism S d HJc~ -> R 3 

""^\r^^ R 

If it were possible to measure the strengths of these excitatory ten- 
dencies between S$ and the different responses, they would certainly 
be found to vary. 

The goal-gradient hypothesis implies that the reaction near to the 
goal in space and time (R 5 ) is more quickly learned than the others 
(4, RS, etc.). Useless reactions near the goal are, as noted above, 
the first to drop out in maze learning. Although the explanation 
for this backward elimination of useless movements is not well un- 
derstood as yet by anyone, the fact remains that both animals and 
men learn to go directly to their goals. 

Central Preparation and Readiness to Act. Hull's analy- 
sis relies in large part upon a relatively simple form of the reaction 
hypothesis, whereas purposive behavior is dominated by complex 
motor attitudes or central determinations. These central determi- 
nants may utilize varied action systems in expressing their purposes. 
For example, if it is my purpose to convey to you a given melody 
which I have heard, I may sing it, whistle it, play it on the piano 
or violin, perform it on the pedals of a pipe organ, or pound it out 
on a set of orchestral- chimes. Furthermore, I am not dependent 
upon any particular set or sets of muscular reactions; with a new 
and unfamiliar instrument I can probably pick out the melody. All 
this implies that the melody pattern corresponds to some dominant 
inner determination. The case is similar to that of a rat who learns 
to run the maze and then threads his way by swimming through 
the same maze flooded with water. Wholly different muscular reac- 
tions are involved, but the same inner determination obviously 
dominates the rat's behavior in both cases. 

The reaction hypothesis, despite its sound foundation in experi- 
mental fact, must be reformulated so that it can account adequately 
for the above facts of purposive behavior. Lewin's doctrine of an 
inner tension which motivates various acts until finally released, 


Koffka's hypothesis of "completion" of certain behavioral require- 
ments to "close" a physiologically "unclosed" system, Kohler's view 
of configurations in the brain, Raup's theory of complacency, Can- 
non's expounding of the principle of homeostasis all these are 
attempts to solve the problem of purpose which lead beyond a 
restricted stimulus-response hypothesis. We do not in the least ques- 
tion the facts of stimulation and response, but rather we doubt the 
complete adequacy of the reaction hypothesis to explain the prob- 
lem of purposive determination. 

Here is an everyday case of purposeful action. Yesterday while 
reading a psychological article I met the word "ancillary." Being 
unsure of its precise meaning, I determined to look it up. There was 
no dictionary at hand, so the matter was dismissed from mind. 
Today in the office while grading examination papers my eye fell 
on a desk edition of Webster. With scarcely a pause or a conscious 
thought I reached for the book, turned to "ancillary," and read the 
definition carefully. 

What happened here? In the first place, meeting an unfamiliar 
word determined me to find its meaning. The determination could 
not be carried out on the spot, so it was set aside by more dominant 
motives. Activities intervened. I was not aware of any tension or 
persistent drive stimulation relative to a determination to look up 
this or any other word. The matter did not occur to me again until 
my eye fell upon the Webster on my desk. A casual glance at the 
dictionary redintegrated in me a motor set of the previous day, just 
as the creaking of the back door redintegrated in the cat a neural 
set which directed her towards the door. The absence of a diction- 
ary yesterday had blocked me; a dictionary was precisely the object 
wanted. When the familiar book appeared today there was a redin- 
tegration of the motor set to find "ancillary," and this was followed 
automatically by action. 

In this instance, I do not believe that any muscular tension per- 
sisted from yesterday till today, with eight hours of deep sleep in- 
tervening; but I am sure that a casual glance at the dictionary did 
build up again a motor set. Between yesterday and today a neural 
readiness to act held over. Holt stresses the point, i.e. 3 that bodily set 
is the Basis of purpose, when he says: 



The purpose about to be carried out Is already embodied in what 
we call "motor attitude" of the neuromuscular apparatus; very 
much as a musical composition is embodied in a phonographic 

It should be said that Hull's critical analysis of purpose and 
anticipation on the basis of the reaction hypothesis is not in any 
sense incompatible with the emphasis we have placed upon central 
processes. On the contrary, the present stressing of the role of cen- 
tral neural organization is a necessary supplement to Hull's doc- 

Conscious Purpose and Purposive Determination, 
Every individual is more or less clearly aware of his own purposes. 
He thinks of future situations and events, describing his purposes 
in terms which refer to anticipated environments. He imagines 
himself, for example, in a train, another city, a building, engaged 
in this or that activity. 

The reference to future environments, Le. f to trains, cities, build- 
ings, and so on, distinguishes conscious purpose from purely physi- 
ological process. An examination of the living brain does not reveal 
any consciousness of environmental objects but only the physical 
and chemical processes going on within the tissues. If it were pos- 
sible to expose the brain tissue and observe directly all the changing 
neural sets and shifting functional patterns during any activity, the 
conscious reference to past, present, and future environments would 
not be found there. There would be no trains, cities, buildings, etc. 

The trouble is fundamental. Direct observation of processes in the 
brain presupposes an objective point of view, and from this stand- 
point one might as well try to find the soul in a chunk of putty as 
to discover conscious purposes in the brain. Only from the individ- 
ual standpoint are conscious purposes directly experienced. From 
this standpoint they are frequently reported in words, gestures, or 
other symbols, always in terms which refer to the environment. 

It is conceivable that a skillful neurologist, who knew all the 
facts about an individual's past behavior and brain function, might 
be able to interpret this individual's neural organization in terms 
of environmental situations. That is, he might read into the brain 
patterns their environmental significance or meaning. Granting 


this to be possible, the achievement would still be an interpretation 
of brain action in terms of assumed environments. 

The only direct scientific evidence for the existence of conscious 
purpose is found in the communications verbal or gestural of 
experiencing individuals. For example, if I determine to take a trip 
to Chicago and declare this to be my purpose, there has been such 
a communication of intention. After a declaration of purpose no one 
thinks it queer for me to prepare the auto and drive to the city. 

My subsequent behavior, it may be said, directly reveals the de- 
clared intention. That is true, but only the verbal declaration which 
was made in advance laid bare the details before they happened. 
Human and animal behavior is shot through and through with 
goal-seeking and open purposiveness. To account for the purposive 
character of behavior, psychologists have assumed the existence of 
determining factors, variously named, as bodily orientations, inner 
adjustments, sets, postures, neuro-muscular attitudes, and so forth. 

Is it necessary to assume anything more than bodily determinants 
to account for conscious purposes ? In addition to bodily factors are 
there also mental determinants of purposive activity? 

To the author the term "mental" designates a point of view 
that of the individual who is consciously aware of his own pur- 
poses. Starting from the reports of individuals, the psychologist 
assumes the existence of relatively stable mental determinants in his 

The layman does precisely the same when he assumes that an 
intention is in his mind, that his mind is made up or determined, 
that purposes in the mind persist during dreamless sleep as well 
as during diverse waking activities, that they direct and regulate 
conduct. This view appears to the author to be entirely sound. To 
assume a mental determinant on the basis of individual conscious 
experience is just as valid as to assume an inner neural determina- 
tion on the basis of objectively observed behavior. 

In reality the mental and bodily determinants of behavior are 
identical, both being assumed to explain certain facts of experience. 
There are not two complete outfits of motivating machinery within 
the personality, but only one. The study of motivation may be 
approached from different angles, just as a burning house may be 
viewed from the outside or inside, from the air, from north, south, 


east, or west. But regardless of the standpoint from which motiva- 
tion is studied, one finds it necessary to assume the existence of 
regulating and directing determinants of human conduct. A pur- 
pose which persists and a neural, or neuromuscular, set are one 
and the same thing. 

Conclusion. Persisting stimulating conditions within the tissues, 
the environment, or both, bring about increased general activity, 
which leads to learning. The attainment of a goal, or the complet- 
ing of a reaction which removes the drive stimulus, restores physi- 
ological equilibrium, bringing the drive to a close. 

Through a process of learning, animals acquire behavior which 
leads them to make appropriate and satisfying consummatory re- 
sponses to environmental conditions. In acquired purposive behavior 
there is an unlearned, i.e., innate, causal factor which resides in the 
bodily mechanisms of drive. 

When an animal is moving toward a goal object he runs pro- 
gressively faster as he nears the goal. This speed gradient is asso- 
ciated with increasingly rapid habit formation as the objective is 
approached. After the process of learning is completed, the animal 
has acquired a goal orientation. He is set towards a definite place 
or predisposed for a particular kind of final response. 

The human individual is conscious of purposes which he suc- 
cessfully or unsuccessfully attempts to carry out in action. To ac- 
count for them, neural determinations are assumed preparatory 
sets, postures, inner adjustments. Some of these determining factors 
will be scrutinized in the next chapter. 

The bodily basis of drives and the environmental control of behavior. 

1. ALLPORT, F. H. Social psychology. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1924. Pp. 

xiv + 453. 

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recent researches into the function of emotional excitement. New York: 
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3. DASHIELL, f. F. A quantitative demonstration of animal drive. /. Comp. 

PsychoL, 1925, 5, 205-208. 

4. DASHIELL, J. F. Fundamentals of objective psychology. Boston: Houghton 

Mifflin, 1928. Pp. xviii + 588. (On drives, pp. 232-248.) 



5. HOLT, E. B. Animal drive and the learning process; an essay toward . radical 

empiricism. New York: Holt, 1931. Pp. vii + 307. 

6. LEHMAN, H. C. and WITTY, P. A. The psychology of play activities* New 

York: Barnes, 1927. Pp. xviii + 242. 

7. LIGON, E. M. A comparative study of certain incentives in the learning of the 

white rat Comp. Psychol. Monog., 1929, 6, No. 2. Pp. 95. 

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of the obstruction method. /. Genet. Psychd,, 1930, 37, 361-376. 

9. TOLMAN, E. C. Purposive behavior in animals and man. New York: Century, 

1932. Pp. xiv + 463. 

Complexity and interrelationship of motivating conditions. 
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u. HAMILTON, G. V. A study of sexual tendencies in monkeys and baboons. 
/. Anim. Behav., 1914, 4, 295-318. 

12. KEMPF, E. J. The social and sexual behavior of infrahuman primates with some 

comparable facts in human behavior. Psychoanalyt. Rev., 1917, 4, 127-154. 

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Exper. ZooL, 1927, 47, 117-161. 

14. LEUBA, C. J. Some comments on the first reports of the Columbia study of 

animal drives. /. Comp. Psychol., 1931, ir, 275-279. 

15. MAcCuRDY, J. T. The psychology of emotion, morbid and normal. New 

York: Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1925. Pp. xvi + 589. 

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2, 307-343. 

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1925-6, 20, 349-358. 

22. TSAI, C. The relative strength of sex and hunger motives in the albino rat. 

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23. WANG, G. H. The relation between "spontaneous" activity and oestrous cycle 

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26. CARMICHAEL, L. The development of behavior in vertebrates experimentally 

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28. HOLT, E. B. Op. cit., reference 5, above. 

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30. KOFFKA, K. The growth of the mind. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co., 

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31. KOHTLER, W. Die pkysischen Gestalten in Ruhe und Im stationdren Zustand, 

eine naturphilosopkische Untersuchung. Braunschweig: F. Vieweg und Sohn, 
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32. Kuo, Z. Y. The genesis of the cat's response to the rat. /. Comp. Psychol. t 

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33. McDouGALL, W. Outline of psychology. New York: Scribner, 1923. Pp. 

xvi 4- 456. 

34. McDouGALL, W. An introduction to social psychology. Boston: Luce and Co., 

1926. Pp. viii 4- 520. 

35. McDouGALL, W. The energies of men, a study of the fundamentals of dynamic 

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The acquiring of purposes. For general orientation in the literature of learning^ 
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61. YERXES, R. M. The instincts, habits, and reactions of the frog. PsychoL 

Monog., 1903, 4, 579-638- 


"It follows . , . that the typical human motives are wants, needs, 
annoyances, discomforts, cravings, which it is the effect of activity to 
change or eliminate." 


The study of motivation Includes the investigation of behavior 
from the standpoint of energetics, which was dealt with in Chapter 
II; also it covers the investigation of those factors which regulate 
and direct behavior, such as purposes, goal orientations, desires. The 
aim of the present chapter is to consider some of the basic factors 
which direct and regulate behavior. 


Under the heading "specific determinations" we consider those 
bodily postures, determining sets, and inner adjustments which 
limit behavior to fairly precise and definite channels. 

Bodily Postures. Everyone has observed in animals and man 
the bodily postures which are preparatory to some specific action. 
A cat in normal surroundings may be observed at times to crouch as 
if prepared to spring upon a mouse. The cat for the time is motion- 
less save for slight shifts of position, quivering muscles, and eye 
movements which follow some object. The entire body of the 
animal is set for action, prepared to spring to a given spot. 

With man a corresponding illustration is the runner who. toes the 
line, crouches, and maintains an alert posture while awaiting the 
sound of a gun. His neuromuscular machinery is integrated tem- 
porarily; he is set for the race, as we ordinarily say. He is predisposed 
to start, and when the "Bang" comes no time is lost in getting under 
way; he reacts immediately and carries on with vigorous activity. 

Darwin has reproduced the picture of a small dog watching a 
cat on a table (Fig. 47). The dog is poised with the front leg slightly 




lifted, the head tilted a bit to one side, the ears raised, as if the 
whole organism were ready and waiting to move on the slightest 
provocation. This is the bodily posture commonly called expectant 
attention. Such postures are frequently ob- 
served in the constant onflow of animal 

From an illustration of Szymanski show- 
ing twenty-two postures in the frog, three 
samples are reproduced in Fig. 48; these 
represent sleeping and alert bodily attitudes. 
Szymanski studied the bodily postures of dif- 
ferent animals and classified them under 
three headings: sleeping, resting, and pre- 
paratory. The last includes all the attitudes 
of approach and escape. 

Bodily postures are seemingly static. In the continuous flow of 
behavior the organism pauses a brief moment to look, listen, sniff, 
or to prepare to run, spring, dive. For the time an apparently static 

posture appears. 

Physiologically, however, the 
static condition depends upon 
a constant expenditure of en- 
ergy. If anyone should be in- 
clined to doubt this proposition, 
let him pose for a minute or two 
as a statue with outstretched 
arms, or let him attempt an in- 
terpretive dance, in which pos- 

TABLE. (After Darwin,) 

tures have to be steadily main- 
tained. A bodily attitude is 
merely a transitional phase in a 
series of movements, part of the 
current of activity. 

A bodily attitude from the 
physiological point of view can be described in terms of muscle 
tonus and of the sensory, neural, and chemical processes that sup- 
port it. To a large extent, bodily posture is reflexly controlled. A 
decerebrate cat is able to stand reflexly, supporting its weight against 

FROG. (After Szymanski.) 
Upper left, sleeping; other two, prepara- 
tory postures. 


the pull of gravity. If the position of the head be changed while the 
animal is standing, the entire body adjusts itself to the head position. 
For example* if one raises the cat's head, the total attitude becomes 
that of a cat looking upward. In this instance the explanation lies in 
the fact that receptors within the labyrinth of the inner ear are con- 
nected to the neuromuscular structures which regulate posture. Also 
receptors located in the muscles, tendons,, joints, and related tissues 
start excitations which pass through the spinal centers, playing an 
important part in the regulation of static equilibrium. 

Posture is to a high degree/ though not exclusively, controlled by 
environmental stimulations. Consider, for example, what happens 
when a bright light appears at the edge of one's visual field. The eyes 
move so as to fixate the source, and along with eye movements the 
head adjusts itself in such a way as to permit the eyes to assume 
their normal forward position in their orbits relative to the head. 
Then the excitations from receptors in the neck muscles reflexly 
change the tonus of trunk and limbs until finally the whole body 
is oriented towards the bright point of light. The process is a smooth, 
continuous, integrated adjustment of bodily posture relative to the 
position of a stimulus object. 

Postures also are dependent upon inner stimulations. The physi- 
cian learns to recognize the characteristic attitudes of headache, ap- 
pendicitis, chest pain, fatigue, well-being, and so on. Everyone is 
familiar with the outward expressions of grief, thoughtfulness, anx- 
iety, which often lack a specific orientation to environmental 

The study of bodily posture is of basic importance to the psy- 
chologist interested in the determination of behavior. A posture 
is an overt adjustment to the gravitational field, to a light or visible 
object, a sound, a prick or pressure, or to a complex meaningful 
situation. It also is an oufward expression of the internal bodily state. 
The total attitude which is regulated both by outer and inner stimu- 
lus conditions helps, in turn, to regulate the course of behavior by 
predisposing the organism to react in a specific way. 

The study of posture and of attention are intimately related fields. 
With man as well as animal a shift of primary attention is essentially 
a shift of bodily orientation to environmental conditions. The small 
dog shown in Fig. 47, for example, has assumed the posture of 


attending to a visible object. The well-known conditions of primary 
attention intense lights, sounds, sudden changes in the environ- 
mental field, moving objects, etc. are certainly conditions which 
induce observant and preparatory postures. 

Fearing writes: "The intimate relationship between posture and 
tonus, and the connection between the latter and the psychical proc- 
ess of attention, seem to indicate the possibility of renewed attack 
on the problem of attention. All the facts seem to point to an inti- 
mate connection between attention and the tonic state of skeletal 
muscle; it has been suggested that tonus is attention expressed in 
neuro-muscular terms. The study of posture static equilibrium 
offers an opportunity to experimentally analyze the relationship 
between attention and neuro-muscular functioning." 

Internal Determinations in the Delayed Reaction. In a 
well-known experiment by Hunter, the ability of certain animals to 
delay their reaction was tested. 

One form of the apparatus is 
diagrammed in Fig. 49. The 
subject was first trained to go 
from a release-box (R) to any 
one of three boxes which 
might be indicated by a light 
(L,L,L). If the correct choice 
was made, the animal was al-, 
lowed to escape through the 
door (D f D,D) and find food. 
If the wrong choice was made, 
he found the exit closed. In 
some of the experiments a 
mild electric shock was used 
as additional punishment for 
wrong choices. 

After the training period, a 
light quickly induced an orien- 
tation of the animal toward a given position, and this orientation 
determined the path followed when the animal was released. The 
release-box was arranged so that the subject could look out but not 
escape until the experimenter released him. In a typical experiment 


used by Hunter with raccoons.} 
R, release box designed to be raised by cords 
over pulleys; E, position of experimenter; 
D,D,D t sliding doors located at these positions; 
LJLJL, light boxes; S, switchboard for experi- 
menter covering part of entrance-box, the re- 
mainder being covered by pasteboard. 


a light was flashed and then extinguished. The subject was forced to 
delay for a time before his response was tested. 

Hunter found that rats could learn to maintain a bodily orien- 
tation towards the position of the extinguished light, this orienta- 
tion later determining the course they followed when released. With 
dogs the determining cue was the position of the head rather than 
the orientation of the total body. The pointing of 'the head towards 
the position of the light and the maintaining of this posture made 
possible the delay in reaction. 

Raccoons, however, appeared to be less dependent than the other 
animals upon gross motor adjustments. They sometimes went to 
the correct box despite an incompatible bodily orientation at the 
moment of release, and sometimes to the wrong box despite a cor- 
rect orientation. In a word, the behavior of the raccoons appeared 
to be dependent upon some intraorganic cue not outwardly shown 
in bodily posture. 

Since the pioneer work of Hunter a good many studies have been 
made upon the delayed reaction. McAllister has shown that rats can 
delay reactions without any gross bodily orientation. He set out 
to answer the question: "What does the rat do when placed in a 
situation in which it cannot react on the basis of gross bodily 

To this end his animals were kept in motion during the period of 
delay, and could not, therefore, maintain an overt posture. Under 
these conditions the maximal delay was 11.5 seconds (median 
value), which is shorter than Hunter's estimate for rats, when pos- 
ture was frequently relied upon. 

McAllister's experiment shows that with rats a delay period may 
be bridged by some sort of intraorganic cue. which persists during 
delay, or else a cue which is reinstated after a period of delay. 
Apparently, then, rats and other animals can delay their response 
to a signal, either by maintaining an overt bodily posture, or by 
utilizing an intraorganic cue. 

Hunter found, working with small children, that they could de- 
lay responses without the necessity of maintaining overt postures. 
More recently Skalet studied the delayed reactions of sixty pre- 
school children. Her method was to conceal an object and to study 
the ability of children to find it after relatively long periods of 


time. The maximum delays obtained by Skalet ranged from one 
to thirty-four days. The older children and those with the higher 
mental ages tended to remember longer than the younger ones 
and those with less intelligence. 

It is clear that in long-delayed responses the problem is funda- 
mentally one of memory. A squirrel, for example, buries a nut and 
much later returns to dig it up. Probably he has little if any hunger 
motivation at the time of burying the nut, and is definitely hungry 
when he digs it up. Granting this difference in motivation, there is 
still a holding over of the memory trace. If an animal reacts cor- 
rectly after a long period of delay, there must be some internal neural 
organization that persists as a substitute for overt bodily orientation. 

What is the probable nature of this internal determination which 
directs the behavior of an organism to a given spot, and leads to a 
specific type of reaction ? The question cannot be answered fully as 
yet, but the following experiments of the writer and collaborators 
throw some light upon the matter. 

Experiments upon Organic Set (Specific Determination). 
Psychologists have used the term "set" in a general way to include 
preparatory adjustments, neural dispositions, bodily postures, deter- 
mining tendencies, attitudes, and other directing or limiting factors. 

In the experiments described below, the term "set" is used to desig- 
nate a temporary preparation of the organism, established either by 
verbal instructions or by non-verbal environmental conditions, which 
determines the pattern of activity as well as the configuration of 
individual conscious experience. The preparatory adjustment exists 
in the nervous system and sometimes in the muscles as well; for this 
reason it is called "organic" set. 

The general method of the first series of experiments was to seat 
the subject before a board containing ten miniature electric lamps 
arranged in a circle. The experimenter flashed these lamps one at a 
time. Every presentation contained either two, three, four, five, six, 
seven, or eight flashes. The subject was instructed to note carefully 
the order and position of the lights as they appeared, and at the 
close of the series immediately to point to the places where the lights 
had flashed. 

A pattern of lights established a temporary set in the subject which 
immediately determined his response. The various questions raised 



12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20-27 

18 19 20-27 


(Data obtained by D. A. Rothschild.) 

The base line shows the ages o children taking the test; the vertical gives the percentage 
passing. The upper curve presents results obtained when the child pointed, in order, to the 
positions of three consecutive lights; the lower curve, results when four lights were used. 



in the investigation and their experimental answers will be con- 
sidered one by one. 

1. How does the ability of the subject to become temporally set 
vary with age? 

To answer this question a carefully prepared test was given to 
grammar-school and high-school children. There were four three- 
light patterns in the test, designated A, B, C 3 D. These were presented 
to 822 subjects distributed among the different age groups. The re- 
sult for the test with three lights is shown graphically in the upper 
curve of Fig. 50. The percentage of each age group passing the test, 
i.e., pointing correctly to the three successive positions, is indicated. 

The result with four-light patterns under the same conditions is 
shown in the lower curve of the figure. With four lights the task 
is more difficult for all tests. Curve A is higher at every age than 
curves 5, C, D. The explanation of this lies in the fact that the four 
points of the pattern formed the familiar and symmetrical letter Z. 
All the patterns were selected by chance, and the above unsought 
result shows that the spatial configuration of the pattern was an 
important factor making for ease or difficulty of reproduction. 

Somewhere between ages fourteen and sixteen the performance 
with three lights reaches approximately 100 per cent correct. This 
limiting age appears with four lights. Again, with tests containing 
five, six, or seven flashes the capacity to become temporarily set in- 
creases up to fourteen or sixteen years, appearing not to vary after 
these ages. This capacity, therefore, is a good index of mental 
growth, and it has rightly been used in test batteries which are 
based upon the principle of growth. 

2. How does the ability of the subject to become temporarily set 
vary with the amount of practice? 

To answer this question a group of six-year-old children were 
given practice on the three- and the four-light patterns. Every child 
had twenty trials per period, these trials consisting of ten three-light 
and ten four-light patterns, presented in alternation. No pattern 
appeared twice in the experiment. Eleven children practiced twice 
a week for twenty-five practice periods. The result of the practice 
is shown in Fig. 51. The upper curve gives the total number of cor- 
rect reproductions for three-light patterns and the lower curve for 
four-light patterns. 



The curves show a well-marked practice effect for both the three- 
and the four-light patterns. Tests with four lights show the effect of 
practice somewhat more markedly than tests with three lights, but 
the difference may be a statistical artifact inasmuch as the three-light 
patterns were easy and the scores throughout were near to the 100 
per cent limit. Overlearning, which undoubtedly existed with the 
three-light patterns, could not be shown under the conditions of the 

Upper Curve -3 Light Series 

lower Crv -4 Light Series 







(Data obtained by R. H. Gundlach.} 

Eleven children practiced twenty-five periods upon the reproduction of three- and four- 
light patterns, the points of which were flashed successively. The score is the number correct. 

3. How does the ability of the subject to become temporarily set 
vary with the speed of presenting a tasJ(? 

To study this question four adults were given tests with five-light 
patterns. Fifty patterns were presented at each of ten different speeds, 
the total presentation times for the five lights being: 0.5, 1.0, 1.5, 2.0, 
2 -5> 3-3 3*5> 4-> 4-5? 5- seconds. The lights of a pattern followed each 
other with no lapse of time between them, so the duration of a single 
flash was actually one-fifth of the above presentation times. Every 
subject received fifty trials with each speed of presentation. The dif- 
ferent speeds were used in rotation so as to equalize practice with 

The number of failures to reproduce the patterns correctly at dif- 


ferent speeds of presentation is given below. The figures are totals 
for all four subjects: 

Total Presentation Time Errors 

0.5 159 


1.5 86 

i.o 78 

1.5 86 

3.0 69 

3-5 61 

4.0 51 

4-5 46 

5- 5 1 

The figures in general show that the faster the speed of presenta- 
tion the more frequent the erroneous responses, and conversely, the 
slower the speed the less frequent the errors. It takes time to get set 
for action. The speed of presenting a task is therefore an important 
factor in the process of temporary setting. 

4. What do the subjects experience in carrying out the tasl(? 

During the above experiments verbal comments of the subjects 
were recorded. Also special experiments were made with a number 
of subjects who were highly skilled in psychological observation; 
their reports were taken down fully. 

The verbal comments indicate that the points of light become 
grouped into triangles, squares, and other visual configurations. 
Sometimes imaginary lines are seen joining the points. In some way 
the separate units are bound together, organized, "clinched" into 
patterns of light points. This integration of the flashes is also ex- 
perienced kinesthetically. The movement of eyes, head, trunk, and 
amis in following the sequence of lights is sensed kinesthetically, 
and sometimes a long series is broken up into parts both visually and 

The experience varies with the speed of presentation. At fast speeds 
(o.i to 0.3 second per single flash) there is usually a single fixation 
of the eyes in the center of the board while the lights are seen in 
indirect vision with a "spread of attention/' The after-image of im- 
mediate memory is said by some to be clearer with the fast than with 
the slow speeds of presentation. At slower speeds there are, instead, 
successive fixations of the flashing lights. 


Various secondary cues are made use of, according to the subjects' 
statements. Some of these cues are: the noting of geometrical rela- 
tions in inner speech, as "above," "parallel," "skip one," etc.; 
rhythmical movements of the body and verbal rhythms as "there 
. . . there . . . there . . ."; incipient pointing movements during 
the presentation; mental reviewing of the sequence, etc. These sec- 
ondary aids play relatively a greater role with the slower speeds of 



Five miniature electric lamps are located at A, B, C, D, E. Above them and concealed 
from view are five telephone receivers, Q, R, S, T, U. The auditory presentation is the hum- 
ming sound produced by a 6o-cycle current, carried through these receivers. On the surface 
of the table Is a felt pad shaped to accommodate the relaxed forearms of the seated subject. 
Through this pad five holes are cut at 7, /, K, L, M. Beneath each hole is a piano action, 
controlled by an electromagnet, which is capable of raising a sharpened metal point to give 
a pain-contact to the skin. The apparatus gives five spatially distinct positions, to the eye, 
the ear, and the skin. The keys for signaling all patterns are shown at i, 2, 3, 4, 5. 

5. Does the ability of a subject to become temporarily set depend 
primarily upon the sense department in which a spatial pattern is 
presented, or is it primarily determined by some adjustment of neural 
mechanisms within the brain? 

To study the problem an apparatus was devised to present se- 
quences of point stimulations to the eye, the ear, and the skin. The 
lights, sounds, and touches were of equal duration and of medium 
intensity. Intensities near the lower limen and intensities so great 
as to induce unpleasantness were avoided. Every point stimulation 
came from a definite position in space, the points being separated 


far enough to insure that errors in their localization and discrimina- 
tion could not easily exist. 

The apparatus, constructed by R. K. Compton, is shown in Plate 
VI. With this apparatus, patterns of six successive points were pre- 
sented to fifty adult subjects. Each point presentation lasted 0.7 sec- 
ond, and there was zero interval between them. 

Twenty-eight carefully selected space-time patterns were presented 
in each of the following modes: 

1. All points visual (V). 

2. All points auditory (A). 

3. All points tactual (T). 

4. Visual and auditory points alternating (VA). 

5. Visual and tactual points alternating (VT). 

6. Auditory and tactual points alternating (AT). 

7. Visual, auditory, tactual rotating (VAT). 

In planning the experiment, practice and pattern difficulty were 
equally distributed among the modes and thus balanced out. 
The subject was instructed as follows: 

The apparatus in front of you will present a pattern of six lights, 
sounds, or touches. Sometimes all six will be lights, sometimes all will 
be sounds, sometimes all will be touches, sometimes they will be 

A buzzer will give two seconds' warning before the presentation. 

Attend closely to the presentations as they come, especially to 
the position and order. 

Count out loud as they come, saying i, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. 

You are instructed to reproduce immediately the position and 
order of the presentations by pressing the signal keys. Use the right 
hand in pressing the keys. 

Do as well as you can and don't worry if you miss. 

The experimenter was across the room from the subject. By means 
of a control panel he plugged in the previously selected patterns of 
points, and a synchronous motor timed the presentation. When the 
subject pressed the signal keys, lamps on the control panel flashed 
in such a way that errors and omissions were indicated. Every trial 
was scored merely as right or wrong. 



The results show differences dependent upon the mode of sensory 
presentation. The average number of correct reproductions of the 
twenty-eight patterns for the whole group of fifty adult subjects is 

given below. 


Average Number Correct 
















5-S 2 - 







From these figures the following generalizations can be made. 
First, the slight superiority in the effectiveness of auditory over the 
visual mode is not statistically significant. Second, auditory and visual 
modes of presentation are both much more effective than tactual, 
judging from the average scores of the subjects. Third, all modes 
which contain tactual stimulations give results inferior to those 
which lack touch points. Fourth, pure modes (A, V, T) are superior 
to mixed modes (VA, AT, VAT, VT), although the differences are 
not all statistically significant. Auditory and visual modes of pres- 
entation are superior to the combined visual-auditory mode, and the 
tactual is superior to all mixed modes containing touch. 

The average scores given above are arbitrary in the sense that they 
depend upon the amount of practice given to the subjects. Practice 
tends to increase all scores; but there is a strong indication that it 
does so selectively, increasing most markedly the lowest ones. Prac- 
tice thus reduces the differences in score, tending to produce uni- 
formity in performance with the various modes. 

A more significant result is obtained when we examine the data 
to find out whether the subjects who make high scores with one 
mode of presentation also make high scores with other modes. The 
answer to this question is given by coefficients of correlation among 
the scores for different modalities. These values, based upon the total 
group, are presented in the following table. 





































The figures are consistently high and indicate that a general ability 
to assume a temporary set does exist, quite independently of the par- 
ticular mode of sensory presentation. When corrected for attenua- 
tion the coefficients approximate i.oo. 

Another important result is the discovery that the difficulty in get- 
ting set to reproduce a pattern depends more upon the space and 
time relations of the pattern itself than upon the mode of sensory 
presentation. Accordingly, if a pattern is difficult in one mode, it is 
likely to be difficult in all other modes* 

This principle is clearly illustrated by the findings in a special 
series of tests in which the lamps were transferred from the original 
positions (A, B, C, D, E, Plate VI) to the table right next to the 
tactual points (/, /, K, L, M). With this change in the apparatus a 
series was given which contained only visual, tactual, and visual- 
tactual presentations. After the experiment the scores for the pat- 
terns were arranged in an order of difficulty for each of the three 
modes. Rank-order coefficients of correlations were computed, and 
found to be: 

r vt = 0,96 
r v (vt) = 0.81 
ft^t) =0.85 

These high coefficients show that if a pattern is difficult in one 
modality it is also difficult in the others. Ease or difficulty, therefore, 
varies with the space-time relationships in the pattern. 

The patterns which were frequently missed have been analyzed 
to determine the sources of error. Verbal reports also throw light 


upon the nature of the difficulties. Some of the factors which make 
a pattern difficult are: the complexity of the geometrical design 
made by the successive points; the spatial proximity of successive 
points; the number of crossings of the subjective lines in a pattern; 
the direction of the bodily movement required to follow the suc- 
cessive points left to right, generally speaking, being easier than 
right to left and the number of reversals of such movements; the 
temporal location of an intricacy, i.e., whether at the start, middle, 
or end of the pattern sequence. 

The experiment as a whole demonstrates the importance of the 
part played by central neural factors in the establishment of a tem- 
porary set, in contrast to peripheral processes. Differences dependent 
upon the mode of presentation do exist to an appreciable extent, 
and they vary with the sensory modality itself (whether pure or 
mixed), with practice in the mode, and probably also with such 
variable factors as the intensity, quality, and spatial distinctness of 
the point presentations. But getting set is primarily a central process. 

Additional Examples of Specific Determination. In all the 
various fields of experimental psychology, evidence can be found 
to support the view that a specific determination to observe, or 
otherwise to react, definitely regulates the pattern of individual ex- 
perience and behavior. Turn to the field of perception for a self- 
evident illustration. The illusions of reversible perspective, and other 
ambiguous figures such as those of Schumann (see Fig. 6, p. 35), 
show how one's set elicits a configuration of experience. A specific 
assumption, whether made by the individual himself or commanded 
by someone else, definitely determines the perspective, pattern, or 
meaning of the figure. Again, in the sphere of associative learning, 
it is well known that the instructions to the subject influence his 
manner of memorizing and his subsequent recall. Suppose, for ex- 
ample, that an individual be instructed to learn in sequence the fol- 
lowing pairs of nonsense syllables: 




After a number of repetitions the subject can reproduce "jix" when 
"tiv" is presented, or "ral" when "nuv" is given. But if he be asked 

to reproduce the next syllable after "jix" or after "ral," there is less 



likelihood that he will make the correct associations. The set to learn 
the pairs in a particular way is a condition of memorizing and of 
subsequent recall Likewise, in controlled recall the instruction 
"think of names of cities" or "think of names of flowers" definitely 
regulates the chain of associations produced. 

Once more, in studies upon reaction,, the preparatory set of a sub- 
ject determines his promptness of response. If, for example, one be 
prepared by printed instructions to move as quickly as possible, the 
reaction time is shorter than when prepared to observe clearly. 
Finally, in the field of attention, if two stimulations come simulta- 
neously, the one for which the individual is prepared produces 
its conscious effect first. Titchener stated this principle, as a law of 
attention, thus: "The stimulus for which we are predisposed requires 
less time than a like stimulus, for which we are unprepared, to pro- 
duce its full conscious effect." The principle was demonstrated in the 
classical experiment of Wundt upon the visual-auditory complica- 

In all the above cases and in innumerable similar ones which can 
readily be found in the different fields of experimental psychology, 
there is some neural adjustment which underlies and regulates the 
subject's behavior as well as the pattern or structure of his conscious 

In daily life further illustrations of the same principle abound. 
The housewife expecting the arrival of a guest is alert for the door- 
bell and gets to the door quickly when it rings. The mother, con- 
stantly set for her baby's cry, hears it sooner than does the father 
who actually has a keener ear. The hostess is more vividly aware of 
a spot on the tablecloth or a fly buzzing around the dining room 
than are her guests. The teacher expects to find his students occupy- 
ing particular seats in the class room and may fail to recognize them 
in other environments. All such cases bear witness to the existence 
of a specific priming or readiness within the individual. 


In the present connection something should be said about the so- 
called factor of "will." We have pictured motivating factors as act- 

* A complication is a pattern of conscious experience in which presentations to dif- 
ferent sense departments are bound together in some sort of unity, as with the moving 
and sounding metronome pendulum. 


Ing automatically and mechanically, just as physical factors deter- 
mine causally the movements of inanimate bodies. We have rejected 
the conceptions of libido, mental energy, psychic force, in favor of 
a purely physical doctrine of energetics. This stand does not free 
us from the obligation of facing squarely the problem of will, and of 
making a direct positive attack upon it. We begin with will as a 
factor in learning. 

The "Wil to Learn. 11 Well-known educators of the past have 
written such phrases as the following: "The reason we are inef- 
ficient is that we don't really care enough about improvement"; 
"The will to learn is essential to learning"; "Intense effort applied 
to details Is a condition of success"; "Supreme effort develops." 
Psychologists have recognized the same principle. In one of the 
classical studies upon memory, Ebert and Meumann wrote that the 
will to strive toward perfection in a given exercise is essential to 

The mere passive repetition of nonsense syllables is a very un- 
economical method of memorizing them, as Poppelreuter has 
shown. He stated that, when subjects were presented with a series 
of nonsense syllables to be learned, their behavior varied markedly 
with the experimental instruction. When they were asked merely 
"to read," with a single exception Poppelreuter's subjects read in 
a low voice with careless articulation of the syllables; they inter- 
polated remarks, laughed in amusement, etc.; but when the same 
subjects were instructed "to learn" there was a sudden and complete 
change of behavior. Facial expressions became tense, the syllables 
were read with a rhythmical accent, and the subject's bodily pos- 
tures were clearly adjusted toward the apparatus. Poppelreuter was 
surprised to find that after a series of fifty readings he himself had 
learned relatively few of a list of twelve nonsense syllables, whereas 
ordinarily he could learn such a list in about twelve readings when 
he willed to do so. 

In a well-known experiment, Book and Norvell studied experi- 
mentally the "will to learn." In the hope of discovering the specific 
mil factor it will be worth our while to study this experiment in 

* "Es ist daher der Wille oder der Entschlusz, cine Vervollkommung zu erreichen, ein 
absolut notwendiges Element des Ubungsortschritts."-^E. Ebert and E. Meumann. 



For subjects these investigators employed a group of college juniors 
and seniors (forty-eight men and seventy-six women), assigning 
them four simple tasks. The tasks were as follows: (i) Making the 
letter a as accurately and rapidly as possible a muscular feat using 
a habit system which was previously well learned. (2) Crossing out 
certain letters in lists of disconnected Spanish words a motor proc- 
ess depending upon visual discrimination. (3) Translating the digits 
of five-place numbers into letters according to a key which was 
printed at the top of the page. (4) Multiplying two-place numbers. 
With each subject the periods of rest and practice upon these tasks 
were systematically controlled. 

Two types of motivation were employed which the experimenters 
designated as stimulus and control. For both types the subjects were 
instructed to do their best with the tasks assigned, but the stimulus 
groups received additional incentives, as follows: (i) Each subj'ect 
was required to count his score after every practice period and to 
keep the result before him while working. Thus the subjects were 
kept vividly aware of their improvement or deterioration in per- 
formance; they worked with complete knowledge of results. (2) 
The experimenter tried to make each subject believe that he really 
could improve from trial to trial, and urged him to do so. When 
an individual failed to increase his previous score he was given 
personal assurance that improvement could be made, and told to 
make up his mind to do better. (3) The subjects were further 
instructed to study their scores, keeping alert for anything 
which might facilitate learning as well as trying to avoid what- 
ever hindered it. (4) At times they were told emphatically that 
they really ought to make more improvement than they had 

Thus, although both groups were instructed to do their best, the 
stimulus group had a knowledge of results, additional encourage- 
ment to study scores and methods, and an exhortation to improve 
their work. 

One important feature of the investigation was the sudden 
reversal of stimulus and control conditions after the first two-thirds 
of the experiment. The following plan summarizes the pro- 


Task Section First f Lastf 

I Control Stimulus 

II Stimulus Control 

I Stimulus Control 

II Control Stimulus 

I Control Stimulus 

II Stimulus Control 

I Stimulus Control 

II Control Stimulus 

i . Drawing letter a 

i. Cancellation 

3. Substitution 

4. Multiplication 

When the motivating conditions were suddenly reversed each mem- 
ber of the control groups was given a record sheet showing the best 
score he had made in all his previous practice periods. He was told 
that this could be surpassed on almost every trial, and then urged 
to exceed the score as much as possible. In other words, the control 
group was given all the additional motivation previously operative 
with the stimulus groups. At the same time stimulus groups were 
treated just like the previous controls. Knowledge of results was 
withheld; they were told to disregard scores and improvement. They 
were asked so far as possible to banish all thought and desire for 
improvement as such from their minds. 

There is obviously a question as to how far the desire for im- 
provement and the interest in scores can be suddenly banished at 
the experimenter's request. Some subjects said that they could not 
help being interested in improvement during the last third of the 
experiment (fifteen practice periods), but others said that they suc- 
cessfully banished all thought of improvement. In view of this dif- 
ficulty with the procedure one is not justified in assuming that the 
control group for the last third of the experiment is psychologically 
equivalent to the control of the first two thirds. 

But be that as it may, the results for all tasks and groups point 
with great consistency to the same general conclusion. A single 
curve, typical of the others, is reproduced in Fig. 52. This curve 
shows that during the first two-thirds of the experiment both groups 
gained, but that the stimulus group had a decided and constantly 
increasing advantage. When the motivating conditions were reversed 
the original control (now the new stimulus group) made a marked 
increase in score; the other group exhibited a corresponding decline. 

In general, all stimulus sections made more rapid and continuous 



gains than did the controls. This was true both for the total group 
scores and for all individual records; it was true when relative as 
well as absolute gains were used. All control groups began to make 
marked improvement when they were converted into stimulus 
groups, and the added incentives also brought increased accuracy 
of performance (pp. 23-24). 

Individuals with the highest initial ability in the different tests 
made relatively the greatest improvement with special motivation. 












15 20 25 30 
Practice Periods 


Sections I and II) under different motivating conditions. (After Boo% and NorvdL) 
The score is the number o letters cancelled in sixty seconds. 

and when the subjects were submitted to control motivation the in- 
dividuals with lowest initial ability made on the whole the greatest 

In discussing how a "will to learn" may best be aroused in the 
subject, Book and Norvell make the following practical suggestions; 

1. Demonstrate to the learner by figures and facts that desire for 
improvement is a condition of advancement. 

2. Make the learner feel that it is worth while to exert an effort, 
and that if he does, he will be rewarded by success. 

3. Have a reliable method of measuring progress. 


.4. Keep the learner succeeding so that he may be assured that he 
has not yet reached the limit of performance. 

5. Show that others have improved and developed beyond the 
learner or, when needed, that others have failed for a time. 

Some fail because they do not care about improvement; others, 
because they need specific help and direction as to how to work. 
Eagerness to improve without guidance is useless; guidance with- 
out expenditure of energy is futile. In the words of the experimenter: 
"Better methods, better directed learning, more zeal, actual interest 
or motivation and a firm belief in the possibility of success sum it 
all up." 

The foregoing study is pedagogically important because it dem- 
onstrates clearly the role of motivation in learning; but psycho- 
logically its significance is less clear. In this experiment at least the 
following factors of motivation can be readily recognized in the 
so-called "will to learn": (i) knowledge of results combined with 
critical study of scores by the subject; (2) self-competition and 
rivalry (which doubtless resulted from the emphasis upon scores); 
(3) desire for improvement and favorable attitude toward the ex- 
perimental tasks ; (4) encouragement and praise. Every one of these 
motivating factors individually is known to raise the level of activity. 
The phrase "will to learn" is of doubtful psychological value when 
it is applied collectively to such a diverse group of motivating con- 
ditions; used in this sense it does not and cannot designate any 
single and clearly defined will factor. Furthermore, the factors obvi- 
ously included within the "will to learn" are themselves complex 
and in need of further analysis. 

"Will" versus Fatigue* If there is a true "will" factor in the 
nexus of motives, it has yet to be found. The unsophisticated is 
certain that sheer mil power keeps him going in the face of ob- 
stacles and fatigue. The transatlantic flight of a Lindbergh, the polar 
explorations of a Byrd, the many foot-races, fights, and struggles 
which occur in warfare all bear witness to the fact that "will" 
dominates human behavior despite great odds. 

While the above sentences are being written there is going on in 
a California resort a so-called walkathon, that is, an endurance con- 
test in walking. Some contestants are walking the floor alone; others 
walk in pairs, a man steadying the girl while she sleeps and she 


steadying him while he sleeps. The contestants are allowed brief 
hourly intermissions, but for fifty-one days now these persistent 
walkers have been constantly trudging along to win the thousand- 
dollar prize. As the contest continues some fall down exhausted 
and are eliminated; others in the daily sprints drop from sheer ex- 
haustion, some passing into an hysterical condition as they are 
eliminated. All are strongly determined to keep on walking around 
and around the floor. Here, indeed, is will in the sense of fixed 

The following experiment by Whiting and English purports to 
show how "attitude" or "will" may counteract the effects of fatigue. 
The experimenters gave a series of tests to sixteen undergraduates 
at Wellesley College, first in the morning (8:30 A.M.) and again in 
the afternoon (4:30 P.M.). The battery included tests for: 

1. Accuracy of physical work tested by the reproduction by arm 
movement of a given length moved. 

2. Accuracy of mental work tested by the division of a line into 
halves or thirds by the eye. 

3. Speed of mental work measured by an addition test. 

4. Difficulty of physical work determined by Whipple steadiness 

5. Difficulty of mental work measured by multiplication prob- 
lems of increasing difficulty presented successively. 

Whiting and English expected to find the afternoon performance 
on a lower level of efficiency than the morning one owing to the 
factor of fatigue, but actually no significant difference was found in 
the test scores. This fact the experimenters explained by assuming 
that the "attitude" of the subjects obscured the fatigue effect: 

The attempt to make a good record is certainly a very constant 
factor in these tests; the subjects exhibited great interest in their 
records as well as in the records of their fellows. They knew that 
the experiments dealt with fatigue, and there were frequent indica- 
tions that knowing themselves to be fatigued, they threw themselves 
into the game with increased energy. Such spurts are familiar factors 
in all efficiency measurements; they can only be eliminated by pro- 
longing the tests beyond the possibility of spurting. 

The above quotation clearly suggests that motivating factors 
which other investigators have called "knowledge of results," 


"rivalry/' "aim or goal/ 5 "will to succeed 55 were present in the "atti- 
tude" which counteracted fatigue. Together they comprise a favor- 
able adjustment toward the work. 

In view of the first experimental result, a second project was 
planned to test the hypothesis that the attitude of the subjects ob- 
scured the fatigue effects. In this experiment four subjects worked 
without intermission for ninety minutes on a battery of eight motor 
and mental tests. During the first forty-five minutes the tests were 
taken in a prearranged order, and during the last forty-five minutes 
the order was reversed. 

No one of the subjects showed a real loss in the second work 
period as compared with the first,, except in the speed-of-inovement 
test. Despite the absence of an appreciable work decrement the 
subjects all reported a marked feeling of fatigue. 

To account for the result a distinction was drawn between "ex- 
haustion 5 ' and "fatigue. 55 

Considered as a subjective phenomenon, fatigue is seen to be a feel- 
ing of a complex sort closely akin to the appetites. Its strong emo- 
tional coloring, the unanalyzable complex of visceral and organic 
sensations, the internal stimulus, and especially the direct and obvi- 
ous relation to motor activity all suggest classification as an emo- 
tional appetite. As such, fatigue functions as a conscious (and nega- 
tive) motive for action. Thus where exhaustion affects primarily the 
mechanism by which work is accomplished, fatigue tends to with- 
draw or reduce the motive power or drive. Or rather, the effect of 
fatigue is to raise the threshold at which a work motive may be 
effective, but does not lower the efficiency of the work, granted the 
adequacy of the positive motive. 

The experiment points to the existence of two motivating factors 
or factor groups which operated side by side: (i) the determination 
or attitude of the subject^ described as the will to do well on the 
tests, and (2) fatigue. The hypothesis is reasonable that the in- 
crements from the first offset the decrements of the second. This 
hypothesis at least fits the belief of everyday life that a fixed deter- 
mination to act can offset fatigue. 

A favorable attitude does not perform miracles. It does not, for 
example, produce work without energy expenditure, although it 
may induce continued energy expenditure when a fatigued state 


strongly demands quiescence. In this particular experiment the will 
factor is essentially a determination to carry on> complicated by the 
other motivating factors mentioned above. In fact, the "will" which 
counteracted fatigue is strikingly similar to the "will" which facili- 
tates learning. Will is a postural adjustment or set of the subject to- 
wards his task. This factor is of paramount significance in the 
process of motivation but it is nothing new and unique to motiva- 
tional psychology. 

Voluntary Attention* The problem of will comes up once again 
in connection with voluntary attention. In every school room teach- 
ers can recognize a condition called "inattention." At times the 
children of the class slump in their seats, look about the room and 
out of the windows, drop pencils and paper, whisper, borrow hand- 
kerchiefs and other objects; or they remain motionless with a far- 
away pensive look in their eyes and in a state of day-dreaming. 
Sometimes inattentive children make faces, throw spitballs, and in 
various other ways are disorderly. But when the children of a class 
are attentive, by contrast, they sit erect in an alert, observant -posture 
with eyes and sometimes mouths widely open, or they bend steadily 
over their work. Very few extraneous movements can be observed; 
there is little whispering and borrowing, for everyone is intent upon 
carrying out the task in hand. 

College students and teachers have repeatedly stated their belief 
that a voluntary "concentration of attention" is capable of increasing 
the efficiency of school work. The writer has frequently heard col- 
lege students complain, "The trouble with me is that I cannot con- 
centrate." If "concentration of attention" means the establishment 
of a determination to work rapidly, accurately, and persistently 
upon some task, the prevailing view is undoubtedly correct. And 
the pedagogical problem is the purely practical one of establishing 
an effective goal orientation, i.e., building up an adequate determina- 
tion. The suggestion or command of the teacher to "give attention 
to this" may be temporarily effective, but all too often this com- 
mand merely induces a temporary shift of bodily adjustment. The 
phrase "concentrated attention," if it means anything psycho- 
logically, signifies a motor set or adjustment relative to a particular 
task. The attentive individual is definitely predisposed toward some 
activity, whereas the inattentive individual for the moment lacks a 


fixed goal orientation. The essential factor In voluntary attention is 
the postural set or adjustment. 

Once the attentive set has become established the individual con- 
tinues along some fixed line of activity; but every now and then 
there are competing determinations and distracting stimuli which 
partially obstruct the activity In progress. This inhibition builds up 
tension which the individual- feels as muscular effort; it gives him 
a sense of exerting will power, of acting under difficulties. When 
an activity in which we are interested goes along of Itself without 
this sense of effort we do not ordinarily speak of voluntary attention 
in connection with it. But when we are thwarted and have to 
attend in the face of difficulties we speak of voluntary attention. 
In this sense the problem of will centers around the mechanism of 
determining set and postural adjustment. 

Deliberation and Will, There are times when an Individual is 
in a state of doubt or indecision concerning some course of action. 
If the uncertainty concerns an important result, deliberation is likely 
to occur. Such deliberation may last for hours or for weeks. It con- 
sists of a balancing of one determination against another until finally 
the mind is made up. 

In regard to deciding between alternative courses of action, Ben- 
jamin Franklin has left on record a letter to Joseph Priestley, in 
which he recommends a method of deciding doubtful matters. The 
method, which is analogous to the balance sheet of business, was 
described picturesquely by Franklin as follows: 

In the affair of so much importance to you, wherein you ask my 
advice, I cannot for want of sufficient premises, advise you what to 
determine, but, if you please I will tell you how. When those diffi- 
cult cases occur, they are difficult, chiefly because while we have 
them under consideration, all the reasons pro and con are not pres- 
ent to the mind at the same time; but sometimes one set present 
themselves, and at other times another, the first being out of sight. 
Hence the various purposes or inclinations that alternately prevail, 
and the uncertainty that perplexes us. 

To get over this, my way is, to divide half a sheet of paper by a 
line into two columns; writing over the one Pro and over the other 
Con. Then during three or four days' consideration, I put down 
under the different heads short hints of the different motives, that 



at different times occur to me, for or against the measure. When I 
have thus got them altogether in one view, I endeavor to estimate 
their respective weights; and where ! find two, one on each side, 
that seem equal, I strike them both out. If I find a reason pro equal 
to some two reasons con., I strike out the three. If I judge some two 
reasons con equal to some three reasons pro, I strike out fwc\ and 
thus proceeding, I find where the balance lies; and if after a day or 
two of further consideration, nothing new that is of importance oc- 
curs on either side, I come to a determination accordingly. And 
tho' the weight of reasons cannot be taken with precision of 
algebraic quantities, yet, when each is thus considered separately and 
comparatively, and the whole lies before me, I think I can judge 
better, and am less liable to make a rash step; and in fact I have 
found great advantage from this kind of equation, in what may 
be called moral or prudential algebra. 

Most of us do not resolve conflicts in the deliberate, coldly logical, 
matter-of-fact manner recommended by Franklin. We drift into a 
decision without knowing what determined us, or we remain indefi- 
nitely in a state of indecision. Some act impulsively with little or no 
deliberation; others have great difficulty in making up their mind. 
Some hold stubbornly to a determination; others vacillate between 
determinations even after a decision has been declared. There are 
clear volitional differences in the psychological constitution of indi- 

A question which has long troubled philosophers is that of free 
will. Can an individual by sheer force of will decide what he will 
do? Certainly the average man believes that he is free to make deci- 
sions. But is the belief a delusion? 

Some light is thrown upon this question by abnormal cases. 
Patients suffering from paralysis agitans, Luria pointed out, cannot 
become less tremulous or less rigid, try as they may. Hysterical per- 
sons cannot decrease the speed of their motor reactions by exerting 
maximal will power. Whole ranges of activity are thus outside the 
region of voluntary self-control. Again, compulsions, tics, hallucina- 
tions, and other dissociated activities usually run their course autono- 
mously, i.e., with no control from the main personality. 

Luria has claimed that the normal human adult is unable to con- 
trol his behavior by the direct application of will power. Self-control, 


he states, is always produced by auxiliary stimuli. One highly im- 
portant source of such controlling stimuli lies in the concealed speech 
mechanisms. Just as one responds to the verbal suggestions of a 
friend, so one responds to autosuggestions, such as, "Now I will go 
to the garage/' or "I must make that telephone call." The spoken 
word supplies controlling stimuli. It may cause the body to assume 
an inner posture which furnishes stimuli to action. Controlling one's 
own behavior is thus similar to controlling the behavior of others 
in that this is always accomplished by means of stimuli. In other 
words, an action which is impossible by direct application of "will" 
becomes attainable when the action is formulated into words or 
when a motor set has been established. The stimulus-response rela- 
tionship, Luria supposes, is valid for voluntary phenomena as well 
as for reflexes. 

To "will" an action is to assume a determining set which moti- 
vates behavior. The problem of free will centers around the condi- 
tions which bring a determining set into existence. 


The voluntary set or determination of the subject restricts activity 
into a definite channel. The psychologist has to take account of cer- 
tain more general preparations and adjustments made by the subject 
to his task as a whole. These place restrictions upon the kind and 
pattern of activity to be carried out. They furnish the background 
or context for the particular activity in progress. 

For example, when one has listened to a symphony concert for 
half an hour one is in the mood for musical appreciation; matters of 
business, if presented, are annoying. Again, when a student first 
starts to study his lesson it is necessary to go through a stage of 
"warming up" before the work goes along smoothly. Once he is 
set for the topic at hand, study moves forward of itself; every dis- 
traction meets some resistanc^. Similarly, the average American has 
a typical set (Emstdlung) for his work, his vacation, his home, his 
club, his church, his sport, and so on. These sets are in the nature of 
very general preparations, readinesses, or diffuse arousals of the 
neural mechanisms. 

An ordinary parlor conversation furnishes an excellent example of 
the domination of verbal behavior by general sets and moods. Ordi- 


narily the first remarks deal with the weather, health,, some political 
event, or other topic of general interest. In a protracted conversa- 
tion the hobbies of persons present come to the front dogs, golf, 
clothing, stamps, books. The men talk about business conditions; the 
women, housekeeping problems; or some recent lecture, amusing 
play, or concert is discussed. Each topic lasts for a certain time; 
sooner or later it is shifted and the talkers all assume another gen- 
eral set. An illuminating exercise in the analysis of set is to record 
and later study the peregrinations of an evening's social conversa- 

In one of the commoner types of funny story the humor lies in a 
sudden and unexpected shift of context. In a discussion of legal 
property rights, for example, the question of ownership arises in 
the case of an egg laid upon 5's land by a peacock which is owned 
by A. Heated discussion upon the legal points frequently overlooks 
the biological fact that peacw^r do not lay eggs ! Again, in the con- 
text of correct grammar a discussion upon the relative merits of 
"Five and seven arc eleven" versus "Five and seven is eleven" ignores 
an obvious fact of arithmetic. The joke in such cases lies in the cir- 
cumstance that an intelligent person is beguiled into making an 
obvious misstatement of fact through the psychological trick of con- 
trolling his general set. 

Concentration upon a topic may give a similar ludicrous result, 
I recall approaching my locked office door while absorbed in esti- 
mating the cost of a projected piece of laboratory apparatus. En- 
grossed with money matters, I reached into my pocket (which 
contained both keys and purse) and absently taking out the purse 
opened the same and reached in for money. Not until I found myself 
standing before the door holding a coin to the keyhole did the 
absurdity of the situation dawn upon me. In this case the general 
set for a consideration of costs and money favored the kind of reac- 
tion which has made absent-minded professors famous. 

Between the most specific and the most general of preparatory 
adjustments there are all gradations; no hard and fast line of dis- 
tinction can be drawn. The most specific determination is a set for 
a definite, limited, precisely defined action. The most general deter- 
mination is in the nature of an ill-defined mood or readiness for 


some type of activity, as to talk about a general topic of conversa- 
tion, to read or listen to music, to exercise or play. Summing up, 
general preparation favors some one system of neural organization 
rather than others; to this extent it is a regulating factor of behavior. 

Quantitative Set. The size of the task with which an individual 
Is confronted, and the time allowed him for performing it, are im- 
portant factors affecting his general preparatory adjustment to the 
work before him. Myers, in 1915, reported that when a time limit 
was set for a given task, such as learning groups of words, the speed 
of learning was increased. His brief report indicates that having a 
time limit affects the mental attitude of the learner, that a determina- 
tion to work against time induces what the layman calls "concen- 
trated attention." 

In connection with a more recent experiment, Bills and Brown 
coined the phrase "quantitative set" to designate the preparatory ad- 
justment of a subject with respect to the quantity of work to be 
accomplished. These psychologists questioned, "Does an individual 
who is confronted with a large task start off at the same level of 
performance and maintain the same degree of efficiency as an indi- 
vidual faced with a small task?" To answer this question they per- 
formed an experiment in which the subject was given the task of 
adding pairs of digits arranged in continuous rows on specially 
prepared sheets of paper. Both the amount of work presented and 
the time limit were systematically varied and controlled. 

Their results demonstrate that an individual's initial level of per- 
formance is directly proportional to the amount of work presented 
to him, i.e., it varies with his quantitative set. Also the steepness of 
decrement in the work curve is directly proportional to the amount 
of work required. For continuous work it is best to break up the big 
task into separate portions. The total amount of work accomplished 
is greater, even if the portions be presented with no respite between 
them, than when the individual is at first confronted with his total 

The magnitude of the task presented is obviously an important 
factor influencing one's preparatory adjustment with respect to his 
activity level. Other factors which affect the adjustment of a subject 
to his task will be considered in the following sections. 


Visual Guidance. In many activities of daily life the eye and 
skeletal muscles cooperate in regulating behavior. This is true in 
driving an auto, in writing, in painting, in using tools, and in count- 
less other activities. If the reader will place a piece of paper on his 
dressing table, and then, while looking in the mirror exclusively, 
attempt to write his signature or to draw a picture so -that it looks 
right when seen in the mirror, he will realize forcibly the role of 
visual guidance in behavior. In the following two experiments this 
factor has been studied. 

Judd placed before his subject a horizontal line and another line 
making a visible angle to it, either above (positive) or below (nega- 
tive). The task of the subject was to place a pencil dot so as to indi- 
cate the position the sloping line would take if it were extended. 
A screen was interposed between subject and pencil so that visual 
guidance of the hand and knowledge of the true position of the 
dot were impossible. Nine different angles were used. After a series 
of trials the experimenter measured the perpendicular distances be- 
tween the dots and the true extension of the lines, using these meas- 
ures as indices of error. The data showed both constant and variable 
errors. Judd states that continued practice brought no improvement 
as long as visual guidance was withheld; later, however, Spencer 
demonstrated a slight improvement by manipulating Judd's results. 

Judd, in his experiment arranged a special practice series which 
was limited to two of the lines: 60 above the horizontal (60), and 
45 below (45). In this series the subject at intervals was allowed 
to pull aside the screen and see the 60 line and the entire blank 
sheet upon which he was to indicate the projection, but he was not 
allowed to move his hand while looking, nor was he allowed to do 
this for ~~45. After a brief survey the screen was replaced and the 
trials commenced. There were five trials with 60, then five with 
45, then five more with 60, and then five with 45; after these 
twenty trials the subject was again allowed to see the sheet, and 
then more trials were made. 

It is interesting to note that this occasional visual aid resulted 
finally in the disappearance of the error for line 60; but the error 
with 45, the line lacking special visual exposure, rapidly increased, 
The corrections applied to 60 were indiscriminately applied to -45 
without recognition by the subject of the inappropriateness of this 


transfer. After the above special practice series with two lines the 
whole group of nine was again used. Judd found that the newly 
formed habit of adjustment for 60 dominated the other lines com- 
pletely, so that all of them were projected to new and erroneous 

The experiment Is especially interesting from the standpoint of 
habit formation. It shows how incorrect habits are established when 
visual guidance is withheld, or when partial and unsatisfactory 
guidance Is given. It particularly demonstrates that when there is 
visual guidance for only part of a task a habit may result that is 
increasingly correct in the performance guided by the eyes, but 
that this practice effect does not extend to the unguided portions 
of the task. 

Another experiment upon visual guidance, quite different In aim 
and scope from the above, was performed at the University of 
Illinois.* Fourteen college men, in two equal squads, were given 
practice in "free-throwing" a basketball. The general instruction for 
both groups was: 

"Take the basketball in hand, walk to the free-throw line." Group 
A received this further instruction: "Look at the basket while taking 
aim and throwing; keep your eyes constantly on the basket." Group 
B received the following instruction: "Look at the basket while 
taking aim, then close your eyes and keep them closed during the 
throw and afterwards till the ball has hit the floor." 

Thus with Group A there was continuous visual guidance dur- 
ing the adjustment of bodily posture and during the throwing; 
with Group B vision was used, to get the preliminary sensory-motor 
adjustment to the basket, but during the throw guidance was motor 
only, rather than visual-motor. The groups were wholly unpracticed 
In basketball at the start and were selected to be equal in motor ability. 
Each man was given fifty throws per day for the experimental days 
of six successive weeks. Every throw was scored as a hit or a miss. 

Figure 53 gives graphically the number of baskets thrown by the 
two groups on successive days. The highest possible dally score for 
each group is 350 (fifty throws, seven men). The curve shows 
clearly that the rate of learning varied with the sensory-motor ad- 
justment of the subject. Purely motor guidance at the start was dis- 

* The work was done by Joseph C. Godfrey under the author's supervision. 


tinctly inferior to visual-motor guidance. Continued practice, how- 
ever, extending over six weeks, brought the two groups to just 
about the same performance level. 

One incidental result is worthy of note, even though it does not 
relate directly to our present topic. The experimental periods oc- 
curred on the early days of the week, not on Saturday and Sunday. 

190 - - 
180 - - 
170 - - 

160 - 
150 - ' 
140 - 
120 - y' 

f 100-- 

90-- Eyes closed 

80*- Eyes opened 


\ i i i i i i i i i \ i i t i i r i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i t i 


Successive Days 



The dash line shows the number of baskets made by a group of seven men who kept 
their eyes fixated upon the basket while getting set and throwing. The solid line gives the 
score for men who first looked at the basket and then kept their eyes closed during the 
entire throw. The figures on the vertical indicate the number o baskets thrown daily out 
of the maximum possible number of 350 throws (fifty throws per man, seven men in the 
group). The letters on the base line indicate days of the week for the six consecutive weeks 
during which practice was given. 

There was, in every case but one, a loss of precision over the week- 
end when several days of practice were omitted. The lost skill was 
rapidly regained with fresh practice, however, and the previous 
week's score was soon surpassed. The rest periods over the week- 
ends are indicated by gaps in the curves of Fig. 53. 

The Subject's Method of Learning. In an experiment de- 
scribed by Arps a six-and-one-half-year-old boy learned lists of spell- 
ing words by different methods. In one method words were learned 


In the order given in the spelling list, and recall was tested in the 
same order. In the other method words were learned in a random 
order and recall was tested in a random order. The two methods 
were alternated from day to day. During the entire experiment the 
boy learned 808 words arranged in 104 lists. 

The results show that for immediate recall the orderly procedure 
was more effective, the advantage of this method over the other 
being 9.4 per cent. On the other hand, for remote or delayed recall 
the random procedure was the more effective one, its advantage 
being 16.4 per cent. The question of the relative merits of the two 
procedures, therefore, hinges upon one's aim. If the aim is imme- 
diate reproduction, the orderly method is superior, but if one's aim 
is permanent retention of correctly spelled words, the random pro- 
cedure is decidedly superior. 

The advantage of the orderly method lies in the fact that with it 
the word list becomes a configuration; if the words of a list are 
learned and recalled in the same sequence, the temporal uniformity 
aids fixation of the memory trace. The disadvantage of the orderly 
method lies in the obvious fact that the aforementioned spatial con- 
figurations and sequences are wholly arbitrary and of no permanent 
value. They are not met outside of the spelling book, and are quickly 
lost along with whatever immediate advantage can be gained from 
them. Therefore, practical considerations favor the random method 
of learning spelling lists even though it gives poorer immediate 

The case is somewhat similar to that of learning to typewrite. 
Everyone knows that when a neophyte begins to use the typewriter 
his first attempt accords with the familiar method of Hunt and 
Peck! Although this method may yield passably satisfactory imme- 
diate returns, in the long run the more slowly acquired "touch 
system" is superior. 

Many other illustrations could be found to show how the method 
of learning relates to subsequent performance, but a complete dis- 
cussion of the topic belongs to the study of learning rather than 
to motivation. One more example, however, is worth mentioning 
in conclusion. A boy learned the multiplication tables in regular 
sequence. When he wished to know the product of nine times six, or 
of seven times nine, he would run over the whole table, verbally 


counting off the products on his fingers up to the desired combina- 
tion. This method of mental arithmetic persists even now in adult 
life. It retards the speed of multiplication for certain combinations, 
whereas a random method of learning would certainly have avoided 
the difficulty. 

Understanding the Task, The practical Importance of the 
method of learning and of the subject's understanding of his task 
is revealed in Freeman's experiment. His procedure was to present 
the subject with a musical chord and at the same time to name a 
color. For example, in the first part of the experiment four chords 
were sounded and synchronously four colors named, thus : 

1. c-e-g green. 

2. B-d-f blue. 

3. F-B-d yellow. 

4. F-d-a red. 

The subject, confronted with four reaction keys which operated as 
many colored lights, had the task of reacting to a given chord by 
pressing the key which corresponded to the appropriately colored 

The chords were first given and colors named, three times over, 
in an order corresponding to the arrangement of the keys and then, 
also three times over, in a haphazard order. In every case the sub- 
ject made the appropriate reaction. This program was repeated for 
three practice hours. 

Then the procedure was changed. The chords were presented one 
at a time, as before, but in no case was the color named. When the 
naming was discontinued it appeared that, despite frequent repeti- 
tions, no one of the four subjects had learned to associate the sound- 
ing chord with its corresponding color name. This is understandable 
if we assume that the subjects had been reacting to the names of the 

A more interesting fact, however, Is that no subject succeeded In 
learning the association between unnamed chord and color in twelve 
to eighteen practice series of twenty trials each! The learning curves 
were virtually level Something obviously was wrong with the pro- 
cedure, so a second method was tried. Four other chords were 


selected which could easily be arranged in a series from smooth to 
rough, thus: 

1. C-E-G smooth. 

2. B-D-F less smooth. 

3. C-D-A definitely rough. 

4. C-G-A very rough. 

The aspect of roughness was demonstrated and the subjects were 
trained to differentiate the chords according to the degree of rough- 

After this the original four chords were presented, along with a 
new instruction: to select some aspect for differentiating the chords. 
The new procedure involved organizing the four chords into a 
single configuration on the basis of a common element. Under this 
instruction all subjects learned rapidly and unmistakably to recog- 
nize the chords and associate them with the corresponding colors, 
No subject was aware of the aspect of the chords chosen by the others 
for differentiation. One took size or volume; two selected degree of 
dissonance; the fourth, texture; The fact that each subject was suc- 
cessful Indicates that achievement was a function of the method 
involved, not of the particular tonal aspect selected as a basis for 
comparison. Apparently what was needed to effect learning in this 
case was a new understanding of the nature of the task, and a more 
adequate method of learning. 

Freeman concludes that with complex presentations mere repeti- 
tion is an uneconomical method of learning. Economy in learning 
requires that the materials be organized into a structure. The experi- 
ment shows the advantage of singling out some one aspect of the 
materials to be learned and attaching structural significance to it. 
In the process of learning, therefore, much depends upon the in- 
dividual's understanding of his task and the fnethod he uses in 
carrying it out. 

Working with Knowledge of Results. Arps demonstrated 
that there is greater efficiency in ergographic work, both in terms 
of the quantity of work accomplished and of the rate of working, 
when the subject knows the results of his performance than when 
such knowledge is withheld. Similarly, the experiment of Johan- 
son (pp. 14-16) showed that, when the subject was told the speed of 


his responses, this knowledge of results brought quicker reaction 
times than when the information was withheld. Again, the study of 
Crawley upon work done with arm and leg muscles (pp. 16-18) re- 
vealed that a clear view of the extent of bodily movements yielded 
increased expenditure of energy. One of the important facilitating 
factors in many other researches is the subject's knowledge of results. 

The student in the class room 5 the workman in the factory, the 
bank president in his paneled office shouldering grave responsi- 
bilities, anyone carrying on any sort of continued activity, is accel- 
erated in 'his performance of duties and tasks at hand by a definite 
knowledge of previous results. Such knowledge is effective in part 
because it gives* rise to self-competition with the attempt* to excel 
one's previous record, and to rivalry with others; in part because 
it presents a definite standard derived from past work to be main- 
tained or surpassed; in part because it puts emphasis upon the quan- 
tity and quality of work and therefore constantly predisposes the 
subject towards a consideration of the nature of his performance; 
in part because merely seeing the results of one's labor is in itself 
satisfying, and creates a more favorable attitude than does work 
which is done in ignorance of results. In everyday life all the forego- 
ing factors are rendered more effective by the realization that 
personal success or advancement depends to a large extent upon 
improving one's record or surpassing one's competitors. 

A direct experimental attack upon the knowledge-of-results fac- 
tor was made by Ross, whose subjects, equivalent groups of college 
students, worked with three degrees of information about results: 
complete, partial, none. The task which they carried out was the 
making of talleys, i.e. f four vertical lines crossed by a fifth diagonal, 
as quickly and accurately as possible, thus: 

In the group working with complete information each subject 
was shown his paper of the previous day with scores and correc- 
tions upon it. A table of scores for the group as a whole was placed 
on the board, and each subject was urged to watch his daily prog- 
ress, both relative and absolute. In the group working with partial 
information the subjects were told which persons were above and 


which below the average for the section; they were not told how 
much above or below, nor given any other information. In the 
third group no information was given as to progress. Subjects were 
told to do their best but to refrain from keeping track of progress. 
They heard what was said to the second section, and all subjects 
knew what kind of work those in the first section were doing. 

The score was based upon the quantity of work accomplished. 
A talley was marked "wrong" if the cross-line failed to touch all four 
verticals, or if more or less than four vertical lines were used. The 
scores for the three sections were approximately the same for the 
first and second days perhaps while novelty and inexperience 
lasted. Then as practice continued the section with complete knowl- 
edge of results gained steadily in speed and remained consistently 
ahead of the other two sections. For a while the second and third 
sections were about equal, but somewhere between the seventh and 
the tenth practice periods the section with partial knowledge of 
their results gained slightly over the one with no knowledge. 

After expressing the gains in terms of percentage of the initial 
level Ross states: "From the first practice period to the tenth inclu- 
sive, the section with full information gained from 2.2 per cent to 
8.5 per cent more than the section with only partial information, 
the average advantage being 8 per cent." This experiment is one of 
many which demonstrate clearly that information regarding one's 
score is a facilitating factor in learning. 

Attitude towards the Task. Discussions of motivation have 
a good deal to say about enthusiasm, interest, initiative, self-confi- 
dence, ambition, cooperation, and similar factors. Taken together, 
these terms, with their opposites, describe what is commonly called 
the attitude of the individual towards his work.* 

In a study of several retarded school children Strong and his 
collaborators aimed to develop an attitude of enthusiasm, self-confi- 
dence, and readiness to take initiative, while tutoring them in arith- 
metic. Deficiencies were discovered and corrective drill given. The 
essential feature of the study was the plotting of learning curves 
so that a child could see objectively what progress he was making in 
adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing. Three conditions 

* The term attitude has been defined in a narrow sense to designate the predisposition 
to react positively or negatively to some opinion. See p. 242. 


were essential: first, an enthusiastic assumption that the child couid 
learn; second, the discovery of precisely what the child could and 
could not do; and third, a restriction of practice to those branches 
where progress could be demonstrated by learning curves. This 
method succeeded in producing a changed attitude in the children. 
The change not only enabled them to make better progress in arith- 
metic, but also to achieve general improvement in their other school 

The importance of attitude can be illustrated further by reference 
to laboratory experiments upon memory and learning. For example, 
if a subject merely reads the nonsense syllables of a series which 
are flashed one at a time before him, his learning is exceedingly 
slow. If, however, he has a definite intent to learn, the speed with 
which associations are formed is decidedly quicker. 

Wohlgemuth controlled the factor of attitude in an experiment 
which required the subject to associate pairs of differently shaped, 
colored and black figures which were placed upon a variety of 
backgrounds. Two instructions were used. The first required the 
subjects to look passively at the exposed materials while assuming a 
spectacular attitude. The second required them to make their best 
effort to learn the pairs, to assume a learning attitude. It is hardly 
necessary to add that the learning attitude produced much quicker 
learning than did the spectacular attitude. 


In his famous chapter upon habit, William James relates the old 
story of the practical joker, who, seeing a discharged veteran carry- 
ing home his dinner, suddenly called out, "Attention!" The man 
instantly brought his hands down, and lost his mutton and potatoes 
in the gutter. The soldier's drill had been so thorough that its effects 
had become embodied in his nervous structure. 

James continues his discussion of habit as follows: 

Habit is thus the enormous fly-wheel of society, its most precious 
conservative agent. It alone is what keeps us all within the bounds 
of ordinance, and saves the children of fortune from the envious 
uprisings of the poor. It alone prevents the hardest and most repul- 
sive walks of life from being deserted by those brought up to tread 
therein. It keeps the fisherman and the deck-hand at sea through 


the winter; it holds the miner in his darkness., and nails the country- 
man to his log-cabin and his lonely farm through all the months 
of snow; it protects us from invasion by the natives of the desert 
and the frozen zone. It dooms us all to fight out the battle of life 
upon the lines of our nurture or our early choice, and to make the 
best of a pursuit that disagrees, because there is no other for which 
we are fitted, and it is too late to begin again. It keeps different so- 
cial strata from 'mixing. Already at the age of twenty-five you see 
the professional mannerism settling down on the young commer- 
cial traveller, on the young doctor, on the young minister, on the 
young counsellor-at-law. You see the little lines of cleavage run- 
ning through the character, the tricks of thought, the prejudices, 
the ways of the "shop," in a word, from which the man can by- 
and-by no more escape than his coat-sleeve can suddenly fall into 
a new set of folds. On the whole, it is best he should not escape. 
It is well for the world that in most of us, by the age of thirty, the 
character has set like plaster, and will never soften again. 

If the period between twenty and thirty is the critical one in the 
formation of intellectual and professional habits, the period below 
twenty is more important still for the fixing of personal habits, 
properly so called, such as vocalization and pronunciation, gesture, 
motion, and address. Hardly ever is a language learned after 
twenty spoken without a foreign accent; hardly ever can a youth 
transferred to the society of his betters unlearn the nasality and 
other vices of speech bred in him by the associations of his grow- 
ing years. Hardly ever, indeed, no matter now much money there 
be in his pocket, can he ever learn to dress like a gentleman-born. 
The merchants offer their wares as eagerly to him as to the veriest 
"swell," but he simply cannot buy the right things. An invisible 
law, as strong as gravitation, keeps him within his orbit, arrayed 
this year as he was the last; and how his better-bred acquaintances 
contrive to get the things they wear will be for him a mystery till 
his dying day. 

Habit is undoubtedly a fundamental regulating process of be- 
havior. Who has not admitted, "I did so and so because of habit," 
or "I acted automatically without thinking"? 

Evidence enough has been presented for the statement that habit 
formation goes on only when an individual is motivated. But it 
should be emphasized here that, once a habit has been established, 
its neural organization restricts behavior into definite channels. 



Pavlov's Researches. The following excerpt will serve to re- 
recall Pavlov's well-known work: 

The dog is put Into a dark room, and at a certain moment a 
bright electric light Is switched on. We wait for a half minute, and 
then give the dog food and allow it to eat for a half minute. This 
procedure is repeated several times. Finally the electric light, which 
at first was an indifferent agent for the animal, and had no relation 
whatever to the function of the salivary gland, owing to repeated 
coincidence of eating with salivary activity, becomes endowed with 
the property of acting as a special stimulus for the salivary gland. 
Every time the electric light appears we have a salivary secretion. 
Now we can say that the light has become a conditioned stimulus 
of the gland. The activity of the salivary gland In such a case serves 
as a simple index of the reaction of the animal to the external 
world. This reflex gradually grows until it finally attains a certain 
limit, in the present case, ten drops of 'saliva in half a minute. 

Prior to conditioning, the light did not symbolize food, but after 
the repeated association of light with food, the former came to be 

a signal for the latter. The light prepared the dog for food, as 
shown by the augmentation of salivary flow, just as the dinner 
bell prepares a man for his meal. 

That some motivation Is essential to the formation of conditioned 
reflexes is proved by reference to the following experiment upon 
conditioned reflexes of the second order: 

We now add to the light a definite tone (of about 426 vibrations 
per second) ; the simultaneous action of the two ... is represented 
by L plus T. The combination of light and tone lasts half a minute. 
This combination of stimuli Is never accompanied by feeding. For 
the first few applications of this combination there is no change in 
the original effect of the light, /.<?., the light plus tone gives the 
same salivary secretion as the light alone did (ten drops in half a 
minute). I wish to emphasize that this combination Is never accom- 
panied by food. We ask ourselves, however, the following question: 
Although apparently there "is no outward change, may It not be 
possible that there has taken place in this process some Intrinsic 
transformation? Has not the tone which we have joined to the 
light and which formerly had no relation to the salivary gland 
become something other ? And after four or five applications of this 
combination (without feeding), the tone had acquired the property 


of acting as a stimulus of the salivary secretion. It is true the effect 
was very small, only one or two drops. But what does this signify? 
The tone, which never had been associated with food but only 
with a symbol of food, eventually brought a slight increase in sali- 
vary flow when it was presented alone. This secondary conditioning, 
Pavlov found, was not permanent; when the double stimulation 
(L plus T) was presented repeatedly without food the conditioned 
response became extinguished. Pavlov continues: 

So the first result of the combination (tone plus light), which is 
never accompanied by eating, consists in this: the tone also be- 
comes a conditioned stimulus. Repeating this double stimulation 
ten to twenty times and never supporting it by feeding we arrive 
finally at the next phase. If this combination during the first four 
or five applications gave the same effect as the light alone, then 
afterwards the action of this combination begins to decrease, and 
instead of ten drops, it produces eight, five, four, three, and finally 
no drops. So the light (L) alone yields ten drops, and the light 
plus tone (L + T), zero. This last state remains stationary; repeat 
the double stimulation as much as you will, you see no change. 

Stated in other words, a discrimination was established between 
L (signal for food) and L + T (signal for no food). The result 
is in line with Williams's experiment upon symbolic rewards (pp. 
301-303). Pavlov's work demonstrates unmistakably the basic import- 
ance of motivation in the formation and retention of the conditioned 
reflexes. It shows that, once a bit of habit organization has been ac- 
quired in the nervous system, this structure may, for a while, still 
regulate behavior even after the original incentive is withdrawn. 

Motivation versus Drill in Human Learning. One ques- 
tion which has been considered by educators and psychologists 
alike concerns the relative importance of motivation and drill in 
human learning. Educators differ markedly in the emphasis which 
they have placed upon these factors. Some stress the importance of 
practice and repetition; motivating devices, they say, are needed 
merely to make the children drill without resentment, for by drill 
they learn. Others emphasize motivation, arguing that practice is 
nothing more than a means of attaining the goal; and that unless 
drill is accompanied by interest and zeal learning does not occur. 


According to the second view, motivation is a necessity; the more 
adequate the motivation the less the need for drill in learning any 
given task. 

The above argument upon the relative importance of drill and 
motivation reminds one of the heredity-environment controversy 
in that the argument turns upon the relative importance of two 
groups of factors both of which are known to be important. No 
amount of motivation will teach one to typewrite or play the violin 
skillfully without practice. On the other hand, blind, unmotivated 
practice is a most uneconomical method of learning and in some 
cases it is wholly ineffective. The emphasis of Dewey and others 
upon interest and adequate motivation has given rise to the project 
method of teaching. Class work which goes along without a vital 
and definite objective in the mind of each student is in danger of 
becoming deadly. The project method is based upon the recogni- 
tion of this fact. In a course of educational psychology at the Uni- 
versity of Illinois the problem of "How to study" was selected as 
the central project. This topic furnished excellent motivation for 
the whole course, and special attention to the factor of silent read- 
ing brought fairly startling results from the class. 

One experiment which emphasized drill as opposed to motivation 
is that of Symonds and Chase. These experimenters gave groups of 
sixth-grade children drill in the correct use of English. The sub- 
jects worked in three groups under different motivating conditions. 

First, under "no motivation" the children worked upon the Char- 
ters Diagnostic Language Test as a regular school exercise directed 
by the teacher. The writers state that the purpose of the test was 
to determine the effect of sheer practice without motivation. It is 
obviously incorrect, however, to speak of work done in the school 
room in the presence of a teacher as work without motivation. Sec- 
ond, the same tasks were carried on in another school under "test 
motivation" conditions. The children were told the results of their 
labor and urged to improve their scores; this encouragement plus 
knowledge of results furnished the additional incentive. In a third 
group an attempt was made to arouse "intrinsic motivation," *>., 
to interest the children directly in improving their language usage. 
Material was read which illustrated the value of the correct use of 
English, and this material was then discussed. The writers state, 


however, that the stories failed to arouse a desire for the better use 
o English. The hoped-for "intrinsic motivation" was not success- 
fully evoked. 

From the results Symonds and Chase conclude that the amount 
of drill, as measured by the number of repetitions necessary to learn 
the test material, is the most important factor in learning. Drill, the 
experimenters concluded, is more important than motivation.^ 


We have just seen that drill and practice leave their effects upon 
the organism. They build up neural structure which restricts and 
regulates behavior. In the following pages we will consider a dis- 
tinction of paramount importance: that between passive organiza- 
tion within the nervous system, on the one hand, and dynamically 
active determinations which arouse and direct human and animal 
behavior, on the other. 

Bodily Structure as a Limiting Condition of Behavior* 
One of the most fundamental and at the same time general prin- 
ciples for the explanation of behavior is the mechanical structure- 
function principle. This principle is shown in the functioning of a 
machine such as a watch or a locomotive; the structure of the mech- 
anism places limitations upon the processes which occur in it. The 
same principle applies, though not so obviously, to the behavior of 
organisms. In a bird the wings, together with the muscles which 
move them, the connecting nerves, and receptor organs, make up a 
complicated structure by means of which flight is possible. In the 
case of a simple reflex the detailed structure of the nervous system 
plus the muscles involved in the reflex act are the essential parts of 
a bodily mechanism which functions when the adequate stimulus 
is applied. 

Bodily structure is not static; it is constantly developing, both 
with maturation and as a result of activity. The fertilized egg con- 
tains within itself chemical determiners which regulate the develop- 
ment of structure, and along with structural development, patterns 

* In the author's opinion, this problem of motivation versus drill needs to be worked 
over more systematically. It is clearly possible to plan an experiment for the purpose of 
determining the practice equivalent of an added incentive. 



of behavior appear and disappear. Maturation and learning go 
hand in hand, and this makes it often very difficult to determine 
whether a given segment of behavior has been learned or whether 
it appeared merely as a result of structural maturation. 

Well-known facts regarding learning compel the psychologist to 
assume that the process of learning either is or involves a modifica- 
tion of the structure of the nervous system. Although the ultimate 
nature of these neural modifications is still somewhat obscure, the 
assumption of structural modification cannot reasonably be doubted. 

Professor Warren has used the term "set" to describe the relatively 
permanent structure of the nervous system in so far as it consists of 
traces left in the nerve substances by previous nerve impulses. In 
this sense, "set" is purely a structural conception. Warren's use of 
the term is very different from our usage (pp. 195-205), which refers 
always to a dynamically active, or motivating, determination. 

Latent neural organization is Inert and of itself does not motivate, 
any more than the structure of the railway track makes the train 
move. Bodily structure as structure and of itself does nothing. This 
is true of the gross anatomical structures as well as the fine ones, and 
of the structure assumed to exist in the nervous system as a result of 
learning. Structure is a condition of function; structure limits be- 
havior, but qua structure it is inert. 

The distinction of importance in the present discussion is that 
between (a) conditions which place limitations upon behavior 
(limiting conditions) and (b) conditions which cause behavior 
(causal conditions). Gross bodily structure and much of the ac- 
quired neural structure are of the first kind; they place limitations 
upon what can and what cannot be accomplished by an individual, 
but they do not motivate. 

Latent Neural Organization and Dynamic Determination. 
The term "habit" Is appropriately applied to acquired patterns of 
movement which run off in a fairly automatic manner. Repeating 
the alphabet, typewriting a word, turning a doorknob these bits 
of behavior have been thoroughly learned; they have become stereo- 
typed. Yet these habits do not ran themselves off apart from motiva- 

At any given time most of the neural organization which deter- 
mines habitual reaction is Idle. Right now, for example, I have 


neural organization needed to play any one of several pieces on the 
piano, to manipulate a variety of tools in the workshop, to drive an 
automobile, to write many thousands of words with a pen, to carve 
a turkey, to recite numerous verses of poetry, and so on. But the 
neural organization is latent; 1 have no determination at present 
to do any of these things. The latent organization does not in the 
least disturb me. I know it is there when I think about the matter, 
but at present I experience not the slightest impulse to start to the 
piano, the workshop, the garage, the writing desk, the dining room, 
to recite poetry, etc. Mere neural organization of itself does not 
motivate; as organization it is inert. 

Woodworth wrote : " A man carries around with him a vast assort- 
ment of possibilities of action. The best conception of a 'possibility 
of action' is undoubtedly that of a neural mechanism so connected 
with other neural mechanisms and with the sense organs and mus- 
cles as to give the action when aroused. The question now before 
us is as to what determines which of the many possible actions 
shall become actual at a given time as to how some are activated 
while others are left inactive as to the arrangement by which drive 
is at any moment applied to certain mechanisms and not to others. 
It is a question of selection, management, and control." 

Although Woodworth is very clear in stating that a given habit 
mechanism may be driven by a variety of other mechanisms, he 
also states that a mechanism when in action may furnish its own 
drive. He writes: "The great aim of the book [Dynamic Psychology] 
is, that is to say, to attempt to show that any mechanism except 
perhaps some of the most rudimentary that give the simple reflexes 
once it is aroused, is capable of furnishing its own drive and also 
of lending drive to other connected mechanisms." Thus an activity, 
when aroused, Woodworth believes, can run of itself, no external 
motivation being required; and further, an activity in progress may 
motivate other activities. 

This view of Woodworth's that an activity in progress furnishes 
its own drive and that it may also furnish drive to other activities 
raises at least two distinct psychological problems. First, there is the 
problem of hedonic motivation. Many pleasing activities such as 
playing with colored pigments or musical tones, beating time to 
music, dancing, playing ball, etc.-, are carried on for their own sake. 



They appear to run of themselves to furnish their own drive 
without any external motivation, but the fact that pleasantness is 
present at least suggests that some tension-reducing process is in- 
volved. The pleasantness of these activities is commonly regarded 
as their motivating factor, but this view is manifestly inadequate. 
Pleasurable activities In relation to motivation will be considered 
in Chapter VII. It suffices here to say that pleasantness and Interest 
do not offer scientifically sound explanations of behavior; they are 
rather phenomena which themselves are in need of explanation. 

Second, there is the problem of latent neural organization versus 
specific determination. This Is the point which concerns us now, 
and it has to do with the question of whether an activity in progress 
is capable of running of itself. It is well to realize that latent neural 
organization does not represent a determination to do anything, to 
go anywhere, or to act in any particular way. It is by definition 
latent, a mere "possibility of action" as Woodworth called it. But 
there is another kind of neural or neuromuscular organization 
which motivates and directs. This dynamically active type of organ- 
ization may be spoken of as a determination to act. 

When a dog chases a rabbit he sniffs the ground, jumps the fence, 
swims the stream, barks while running, etc., and the entire process 
is oriented with respect to that particular moving object. The path 
of the rabbit determines the path of the dog. Again, when a man 
pursues his hat blown by the wind he turns and dodges this way 
and that; his behavior Is constantly oriented towards the receding 
headgear. In such cases a specific determination dominates the or- 
ganism's activity. 

The specific determination brings into play whatever latent neural 
organization is needed to arrive at a final adjustment. The deter- 
mination to buy a razor, for example, involves turning the door- 
knob, unlocking a door, manipulating the pedals and levers of an 
automobile, speaking sentences in the English language, etc. These 
and many other habitual reactions are called into function precisely 
at the moment when they are needed. The situations in which these 
habituated reactions occur are never twice the same, yet the reac- 
tions are all adjusted to the main purpose. 

The relation between latent neural organization and dynamic 
determination is well illustrated in the following experiment de- 


scribed by Dashiell. On a single sheet of paper were printed one 
hundred simple arithmetic problems, including twenty-five In each 
of the four fundamental processes adding, subtracting, multiply- 
ing,- and dividing. The problems were presented in a continuous 
order, Le., in the first column were all the addition problems, in the 
second all the subtraction, and so on. On another sheet the very 
same problems were given In a mixed or random order. The two 
types of arrangement are illustrated below. 


4+5 = 

13-5 = 

zX 8 = 

12. T. = 

7 + 8 = 


7X9 = 

18-4 = 

5 + 3 = 

14-9 = 

5X8 = 

8- z = 

4+6 = 

10 2. = 

4X7 = 

2.0 4 = 

1+7 = 

8-7 = 

3X8 = 

15-5 = 

8X7 = 

M-3 =~ 


8+1 = 

4X7 = 

9+9 = 

6X 6 = 

iX 6 = 

8-3 = 

Z4-5- 4 = 

3 + 9 = 

15-8 = 

2-+ 9 = 

5X5 = 

9X3 = 

Z4H-3 = 

LI -s- 3 = 

8-4 = 

6-3 = 

3X4 = 

5X8 = 

7-5- i = 

16-*- 8 = 

5-9 = 

7+3 = 

8+ 6 = 

Sixty-nine persons, who served as subjects, were instructed to jot 
down the answers as rapidly as possible. A record was made of the 
time taken to complete each sheet. Sixty-three of the subjects (91 
per cent of the group) required less time to complete the problems 
arranged In continuous order than those that were mixed, the aver- 
age time for the two orders being 159.3 an( i I ^i*7 seconds, respec- 

The explanation of the above temporal difference lies in the fact 
that it requires time to shift one's mental set from adding to multi- 


plying, dividing, or subtracting. The continuous order 3 of course, 
necessitated fewer shifts of set than did the mixed one. Incidentally, 
the experiment teaches a lesson of practical importance: it is eco- 
nomical of time to plan one's work so that shifts of set are at a 

During the years of elementary-school training most individuals 
acquire a neural organization which makes it possible to solve 
simple problems in arithmetic, but this organization remains latent 
until some specific problem calls upon it. Nearly everyone possesses 
neural organization which makes it possible to say, "four plus five 
is nine," "twenty-four divided by three is eight/' and so on, or which 
makes one think of "12" when "4 X 3" is seen on a piece of paper. 
There is a "determining tendency/' as Ach once explained, which 
selects out certain associations from various potential ones. Thus, 
if the instruction be add, the figures 4 and 2 give the answer 6; 
if the instruction be multiply^ the same figures give the answer 8. 
Ach's "determining tendency" is thus a further example of what 
we prefer to call a specific determination. His illustration obviously 
implies the distinction between latent neural organization and de- 
termining factors. 

In view of the above discussion it is clear that the present author 
believes all activities in progress to be motivated, even though the 
motivation be obscure or wholly unknown. When an activity seem- 
ingly continues of itself, and especially when it dominates secondary 
activities, the process is one of energy release which is specifically 
directed by some inner determination. 

An activity in progress usually continues to run to completion; 
that is because its motivation persists. The bare fact that an undis- 
turbed activity goes on until completion or satiation is reached in- 
dicates the existence and persistence of motivating conditions. Latent 
neural organization of itself does nothing and can do nothing, ex- 
cept limit and direct activity much as a railway track limits and 
directs the path of the locomotive. 

Neural and Mental Organization* Mental organization is 
assumed to be identical, in reality, with part of an individual's 
neural organization. The psychologist of today is concerned with 
a single living organism, not with a body plus a mind. To be sure, 
this organism is being analyzed from diverse points of view. The 



terms "mental" and "neural" presuppose different viewpoints. On 
the one hand, the phrase "mental organization" presupposes the 
standpoint of an individual who is the subject of conscious experi- 
ences. "Neural organization," on the other hand, implies an objec- 
tive point of view, that is, a behavioral and physiological one. This 
difference in viewpoint is not incompatible with the basic hypothe- 
sis that mental and neural organization are, in reality, identical. 

When we say that a person has knowledge about a place, situa- 
tion, problem, topic, or field of science, we mean that through pre- 
vious experience he has built up a certain mental or neural 
organization relating to that subject. The nature and extent of this 
organization can be revealed by questions in the form, "Tell me what 
you know about #?" or perhaps by placing the individual in a test 
situation and observing how he reacts to it. For example, if I want to 
discover whether a man knows how to operate a power lathe, I 
can ask him questions about its construction and use, or I can take 
him to the machine shop and give him the task of turning out a 
ladder-rung. A class-room examination is literally a test to explore 
and reveal the extent and nature of some particular system of men- 
tal organization. 

It is an emphasis upon individual conscious experience, as con- 
trasted with neural process, which differentiates the mental from 
the bodily study of organization. The conscious individual lives in 
a world of his own perceptions, thoughts, impulses, emotions, de- 
sires, dreams; he reports and describes these experiences verbally. 
On the basis of such reports psychologists have constructed hypothe- 
ses about mental organization which are of greatest importance in 
understanding an individual. Mental organization has its real locus 
within the brain, but it differs from other neural organization in 
that it is assumed to exist and considered wholly from the stand- 
point of the individual who lives consciously in his own persisting 
world. Inasmuch as the individual point of view is practically im- 
portant only where verbal descriptions of conscious experience can 
be obtained, this approach is restricted to human psychology. 

Once the individual point of view has been taken and the assump- 
tion of mental organization made, it becomes necessary to distin- 
guish latent mental organization from the dynamically active de- 
terminations which call it into play. Precisely the same distinction 


which was drawn between latent neural organization, and the 
specific determinations which call upon it, exists as well when the 
individual viewpoint is assumed. 

The verbal organization acquired through speaking a foreign 
language may pass into disuse and remain latent as inert mental 
organization. Again, the ability to play a Beethoven sonata may not 
manifest itself for many years. Whole segments of mental organiza- 
tion remain latent and inert most of the time. As latent, they place 
limitations upon the individual or open up possible channels of 
behavior to him, but they are not causally determinative. A mental 
determination or set is definitely motivating as, for example, in the 
case of a resolution or intention to carry out some definite plan. 
When a decision has been made the determination calls the appro- 
priate organization into play. 

Such mental determinations persist even when the awareness of 
them is temporarily suspended as during sleep. They definitely regu- 
late and direct behavior. Whether determinations be pictured In 
neural or in mental terms does not change the real nature of the 
motivational processes. 

The Verbal Control of Behavior. The development of lan- 
guage more than anything else has widened the gulf between man 
and other animals. The importance of speech in the social order 
can scarcely be overemphasized. The spoken word Is vastly superior 
to the more primitive means of human communication through 
the use of gestures. 

The word frees the individual from his Immediate surroundings, 
enhancing his ability to think symbolically before acting overtly. 
A spoken word may cause an individual to think of a person, a 
tree, a ballgame, a melody, a conversation, a mathematical problem, 
or any other definite bit of past experience. The word is thus an 
easy means of manipulating past, present, and future events as well 
as timeless relationships. 

A series of words Is capable of causing the individual to live 
over again some complex sequence of past experiences. As the words 
are heard the emotional and dynamic phases of previous reactions 
tend to be reinstated. Every soapbox orator who Incites a crowd 
knows well the effectiveness of words. Through speech he can 
suggest any activity to his audience, and- unless there be Inhibiting 


factors the suggestion has some likelihood of being carried out 
overtly. If immediate action does not result, at least a changed atti- 
tude remains which limits future action or predisposes to it, 

There is a certain equivalence between verbal organization and 
gross behavior. The word "go/' for instance, is equivalent to the 
act of going; the word itself tends to build up a neuromuscular 
preparation, for that action. The more specific words "go to the 
city" symbolize an elaborate and extended plan of action; they 
stand for the gross activity itself. 

On account of this equivalence the spoken or written word may 
indicate an intention to act; it may order or command a person to 
carry out a particular course of conduct or symbolize an impending 
action. For the above reasons verbal organization is fundamentally 
important in the social control of human behavior. 

The significance of verbal control is clearly seen in the case of an 
adult giving orders to a child. The child, being uninhibited, accepts 
the suggestions when given, without much resistance. An example 
is found in the Stanford revision of the Binet tests for the five- 

A test of three commissions is presented by use of the following 
instructions: ". . . Here's a key. I want you to put it on that chair 
over there; then I want you to shut (or open) that door, and then 
bring me the box which you see over there. . . ." If the instruction 
is understood, accepted, and carried out, the child passes the test. 
While the child is receiving the instruction he may look at the ob- 
jects mentioned and possibly start towards them. Normally he is 
restrained until the entire instruction has been given and then he 
attempts to carry it out. Before the child starts on his three com- 
missions, his organism has been set or determined by the verbal 
instruction. The instruction establishes a specific determination 
which in turn dominates subsequent behavior. 

The case is duplicated in everyday life by the mother who in- 
structs her child: to go to the grocery store and purchase a loaf of 
bread, then to go to the butcher shop and ask for the meat, and 
then to come straight home. As the child leaves the house his organ- 
ism has been specifically determined by the instruction. To an out- 
sider, ignorant of the words spoken by the parent the child's be- 



havior would be unpredictable; but with knowledge of the instruc- 
tion his action would be understandable and to a certain extent 

An interesting and extreme illustration of verbal control is found 
in post-hypnotic suggestion. For example, during hypnosis the sug- 
gestion may be given to the subject that two hours later when the 
clock strikes twelve he will grasp his pocket handkerchief and 
wave it in the air. The subject awakens from hypnosis quite un- 
aware of the determining set, but when the clock strikes twelve the 
suggested action is carried out correctly, and then completely for- 
gotten. To account for this phenomenon one must assume the exist- 
ence of a temporary determination or set, established by verbal 
suggestion. In the same way, though less spectacularly, words in 
everyday life as truly as non-verbal conditions serve to build up 
specific determinations. The following monologue of a negro jani- 
tor in a hotel lobby is a propos. 

Funny how I got dis job. One day the onah says to the managah: 
"I believe dis ftoo' ought to be mopped." So the managah goes to 
the head clerk and says: "Don't you think dis floo' ought to be 
mopped?" Of cose, the head clerk said he believed it did, so he says 
to head potah, "I think dis floo 3 ought to be mopped." Then the 
head potah he says to me, "Sam, dis floo 5 ought to be mopped." 
Well, I thought so too ? but I had no one to tell it to so I mopped it 

Attitudes and Their Measurement. The term "attitude" is 
usually applied to the more complicated mental structures which 
can be expressed verbally, but attitudes exist whether or not they 
are verbalized. The dyed-in-the-wool republican, the ardent church- 
man, the militant suffragist, show their attitudes in deeds as well 
as in words. 

Attitudes, in many forms and in all degrees of stability, exist uni- 
versally in all human beings and toward many things in their 
environment. There are, however, certain ranges of experience 
within which very pronounced attitudes are especially likely to de- 
velop political, economic, religious, ethical, racial. Surprisingly 
enough, an individual can rarely give an adequate account of how 
he developed his biases and prejudices. 


The main characteristic of an attitude is that it predisposes the 
individual to react positively or negatively, to accept or reject, a 
given proposition. Some of our simple likes and dislikes, as the 
liking for sugar, warmth, and muscular relaxation, or the dis- 
liking for quinine, -pain and tiresome work, are clearly unlearned; 
they depend upon innate bodily structures. On the other hand, 
the great bulk of our attitudes are acquired. Whether an individ- 
ual accepts or rejects a given proposition depends upon his mental 
organization, which in turn depends upon his psychological his- 

This psychological history, beginning at birth, includes the wit- 
nessing of chance remarks, conversations, and behavior in the home 
and the surroundings of early life, as well as all the experiences of 
adulthood. From all this, but especially from the earlier influences, 
one becomes inclined toward or away from persons, events, objects, 
and complex situations, and often acquires pronounced biases in 
many vital fields, without remembering how or why the develop- 
ment came about. 

For instance, the attitudes which an individual possesses towards 
such complex matters as communism, kidnaping, the new deal, 
Hitlerism, and religion are all acquired, earlier or later, from the 
social environment, even though the person himself does not know 
the sources of his prejudice. 

It is necessary, if attitudes are to be measured, to accept a some- 
what limited definition of an attitude, describing it as that mental 
organization which predisposes an individual towards or away 
from a verbal statement. One obvious difficulty with this definition 
is that most verbal statements fail. to receive unqualified approval 
or disapproval; there are complicating pros and cons which in some 
respects make the reaction yes and in other respects no. Also there 
are varying degrees of emphasis upon yes and no. Further, there 
are complex attitudes towards one's self, one's work, one's country, 
which cannot easily be put into words, and which cannot be defi- 
nitely related to a positive or negative reaction. 

One must keep these difficulties in mind, while holding to the 
above definition. In order to measure attitudes it is necessary next 
to specify a continuum along which attitudes can be arranged from 



the most vigorous and wholehearted approval through indifference 
to the most vehement disavowal For example, attitudes toward war 
and toward prohibition range between the following extremes: 

Pacifism Militarism 

Wet Dry 

In complicated matters such as the nature of democracy it is diffi- 
cult to find well-defined continua, for opinions are multidimen- 
sional. Nevertheless, if such attitudes are to be measured, the topic 
must be resolved into a number of simpler components each one 
of which can be reacted to positively or negatively. 

Thurstone and Chave have applied psychometric methods to the 
study of attitudes. In an experimental work with attitudes toward 
the church their first step was to collect a large number of state- 
ments of opinion about the church such as: "I believe the modern 
church has plenty of satisfying interests for young people." "I have 
seen no value in the church." "The Roman Catholic church is the 
highest religious authority in the world." After 130 such statements 
were selected, each one was placed on a separate piece of paper 
and 300 persons were then instructed to arrange the opinions in 
eleven piles, from those showing the highest appreciation of the 
church to those showing the strongest depreciation. The piles were 
marked by letters from A to K y with those two letters at the two 
extremes, and with a neutral position, F, indicated as such. Inter- 
mediate categories were not defined, but the steps between the ad- 
jacent letters were assumed to be subjectively equal. 

Results were tabulated so as to reveal what percentage of the 
300 persons placed a given statement in each category. The graphic 
representation of these percentages gave curves from which a scale 
value, representing the degree of church approval or church dis- 
approval, was readily determined for each particular statement. The 
50 per cent point of a curve located a scale value on the series of 
steps between approval and disapproval, and the interquartile range 
served as an index of ambiguity or spread of opinion. After examin- 
ing the scale values of the 130 opinions about the church forty-five 
statements were selected which gave approximately equal separa- 
tions on the scale. 


Ambiguous and irrelevant statements were avoided.* A statement 
such as, "I am interested in a church that is beautiful and that 
emphasizes the esthetic side of life," may be endorsed by the most 
pious church member as well as by the most outspoken atheist. 
Hence this statement does not differentiate attitudes toward the 
church pro and con, but is ambiguous so far as the continuum in 
question is concerned. 

After the attitude scale was completed it was tested with groups 
of students in the Liberal Arts and the Divinity schools at the Uni- 
versity of Chicago; it was also tried out with other groups. The 
scale proved useful and practical in differentiating attitudes toward 
the church within the groups tested. 

An attitude scale measures the verbal expression of mental organ- 
ization as indicated by the acceptance or rejection of a series of 
opinions. This measure does not imply that an individual will neces- 
sarily act in accordance with the opinions he has endorsed, even 
though in most cases it is true that word and deed agree. There is 
interest in discovering what people thinly or at least say they be- 
lieve, even if their conduct be inconsistent with their professed 
opinions. If attitudes are distorted, the measure at least reveals what 
persons are trying to make others believe that they have in their 
mental organization. 

An attitude measuring scale makes it possible to determine the 
mean attitude of a group, the dispersion of attitudes within a group, 
and the effect produced upon the distribution of opinion by various 
factors such as a sermon, lecture, motion-picture film, broadcast, 
or the news of an election, kidnaping, or war. It also gives a meas- 
uring stick by means of which an individual can discover the opin- 
ion most representative of himself, and the range of opinion he will 
and will not accept. 

Before concluding this discussion of mental attitudes it is well to 
remind ourselves again of the distinction between passive mental 
organization and active determination. The tests of attitude reveal 

* The following desiderata in making a selection were noted by Thurstone and Chave: 
(i) opinions should reflect present and not past attitudes; (2) double-barreled or ambiguous 
statements should be avoided; (3) statements restricted to a narrow range of endorsers 
should not be used; (4) each opinion should be such that persons at both ends of the scale 
cannot endorse it; (5) statements should be free from confusing concepts; (6) slang should 
be avoided except where it most aptly describes an attitude. 



primarily one's passive organization. If, however, an individual were 
dynamically determined along the line designated by the statement 
of attitude, the test would doubtless reveal a very strong approval 
or disapproval. An active communist, for example, would indicate, 
through such a test, a strong approval of communistic opinion, 
which was more than a passive mental organization. The truth of 
the matter is that the attitude test cannot make distinctions between 
passive organization and active determination, unless we assume 
that differences in strength of approval and disapproval indicate 
such gradations. This assumption, however, is without adequate 
grounds for support from available evidence. 

Tensions and Their Release. In the continued story or the 
film, tensions are constantly being built up and released: 

The boy is on a ship; the sea is rough. He slowly climbs the 
swaying mast to adjust the sail. Near the top of the mast his foot 
slips; he hangs to the rigging with one hand. He fails to draw him- 
self to safety. Now a rescuer climbs with difficulty the rocking 
mast. Will the boy's grip weaken? Will he fall to death in the 
stormy sea? . . . 

In listening to narratives such as the above, one feels kinesthetic 
pressures indicative of uncertainty and perhaps anxiety. When the 
suspense is released there is a sense of relaxation and letdown. Ten- 
sions are experienced, in fact, whenever the outcome of an impor- 
tant situation is uncertain. During an election, suspense or tension 
is built up while the campaign continues; it reaches its greatest in- 
tensity on election day, and is released only when the returns are 
announced. The release brings joy-elation to some and unhappiness- 
depression to others, depending upon whether one's wishes are 
realized or thwarted. The mood which persists after the election 
gradually wears itself down until a mental balance or poise is re- 

Very clear cases of the tension-release process can be found in 
the pressures of group conversation. Frequently one feels an urge 
to make some remark, but speech is inhibited until an appropriate 
pause occurs. The urge itself feels like some kind of pressure in the 
throat and mouth region, which indicates that the speech muscles 
are all set to speak but are prevented from doing so. Later, when 



the remark has been made, the inner pressure vanishes. The follow- 
ing examples illustrate the tension and release mechanism in speech. 
An interesting table conversation is under way at the start of a 
meal Paterfamilias who for years has regularly said grace without 
missing a meal is restless and eager to ask a blessing. His tension is 
finally released by saying grace. All pause while grace is said, and 
afterwards the conversation is resumed at the point where it left 
off. At the close of grace the various speech tensions again seek to 
find release. From the temporal standpoint the sequence of events 
and the dynamic relationships may be diagrammed thus: 

| Conversation 


Again, a man is talking with his wife who is ill in bed. The nurse 
enters the room and immediately the conversation between husband 
and wife ceases and a more impersonal one between nurse and wife 
begins. After a while the nurse leaves the room and the husband- 
wife conversation is continued from the point at which it left off. 
The mirse again enters, changing the social situation, and the im- 
personal talk between wife and nurse is resumed. Once more the 
nurse leaves the room, again the husband and wife converse. In this 
situation there are really two conversations which are sandwiched 
in between each other. Each is more or less of a unit; each depends 
upon its own motivating factors; each is held in suspense while the 
other goes on. The psychological situation may be diagrammed as 

Wife and | Wife and 
Husband 1 Nurse 


If a particular conversation pressure does not releas'e itself on the 
spot, it may gradually wear down and vanish; but there remains 
for some time a readiness to make that particular remark or to tell 
that funny story. The untold incident or interesting experience may 


bob up unexpectedly at a later time. There is also the phenomenon 
of being "talked out." Everyone knows that, if conversation is con- 
tinued long enough, it lags; there is little more to say; everyone 
has made his remarks and is through, for the moment, with talk- 
ing. Sleepiness or that quiescence which follows a hearty meal 
favors the satiation of the urge to talk. 

Tension and release occur constantly in the trivial events of daily 
life. The phone rings; a tension is built up and instantly released by 
answering the call. An appointment is suddenly remembered; 
quickly one dashes to the garage and drives away, thus reducing 
the tension. A resolution to mail a letter, a determination to make a 
purchase, an urge to give a gift, a wish to read a new book or see 
a popular play all build up tension. Frequently a determination is 
aroused when action is temporarily suspended or delayed. Sooner 
or later these manifold tensions all find release and fresh ones take 
their places in the ever-changing situations of daily life. 

Bearing upon the analysis of tensions is an experiment of consider- 
able theoretical importance performed by Zeigarnik under Lewin's 
supervision. The subjects were given a series of agreeable tasks, such 
as: writing down a favorite poem, molding a clay animal, drawing 
a vase of flowers to suit the taste, making one's monogram, draw- 
ing a map of a small district in the city (Berlin), filling an ellipse 
with penciled crosses, multiplying, extracting square root, solving 
riddles, working puzzles, and so on. Eighteen to twenty-two such 
tasks were given in immediate succession with the general instruc- 
tions to carry them out as well and quickly as possible. Half of the 
tasks were interrupted by the experimenter on some pretext or 
other, but she allowed the remaining half to be carried through to 

Completed and interrupted tasks were presented in a haphazard 
order. After every task the materials used for it were removed from 
view, and after the whole series had been finished the experimenter 
asked each subject to tell what tasks had been undertaken during 
the course of the experimental hour. 

The aim of the investigation was to compare the memory for 
completed acts with that for non-coinpleted ones. The experiment 
demonstrated clearly that non-completed acts were retained on the 
average about .twice as well as completed ones. The ratio between 

2 4 8 


the number of non-completed activities retained, and the number 
for completed ones, was computed for each individual. These ratios 
for thirty-two subjects are arranged in rank order below: 







I -5 






3 .o 


I -5 


3 .o 


x :5 











This superior retention for non-completed activities has been re- 
ferred to as the*"Zeigarnik effect." It can be explained, in terms of 
Lewin's psychology, by reference to a want (Quasibedurjnis) on 
the part of the subject to complete a task once begun. When an 
activity is interrupted, a tension generally remains which leads the 
individual to complete it later, if opportunity offers. With the com- 
pleted task no such tension persists, and hence the degree of reten- 
tion is less. The psychological principle in question is well recog- 
nized in daily life: there is a persistence of determination towards 
the completion of activities which have been started and temporar- 
ily interrupted. 

Tensions and their release can best be pictured in terms of muscle 
tonus. The pressure-like strain or relaxation which an individual 
feels in his conscious experience is directly dependent upon the bod- 
ily set aroused by the situation. The mechanism of tension-release 
is the same as that involved in getting set for action and later re- 
acting upon the basis of the preparatory adjustment. 

The Cessation of Repeated Voluntary Activities. If a sub- 
ject is instructed to repeat an interesting activity as long as he is 
inclined to do so, such as tapping out a given rhythm or playing a 
melody, sooner or later his interest and enthusiasm wane. Finally 
the person comes to realize that he has had enough of it. If urged 
to continue beyond the natural stopping point, he shows a negative 
attitude towards the task and endeavors to escape from the scene 
of activity. 


Karsten 3 in an experiment under Lewin's supervision, instructed 
the subjects to tap out a certain rhythm just as long as they were 
inclined to do so. For a minute or more the tapping went along 
smoothly, but after a while (the time varying with the individual 
from five to thirty-eight minutes) the subjects ceased and wanted 
to get away from the laboratory situation. By reason of repetition, 
the activity which was at first carried along with moderate interest 
became one to be avoided. According to Karsten, mental satiation 
is not the same as fatigue, although the two conditions are closely 

If one starts to play solitaire, to work upon a crossword puzzle, to 
knit, to read some monotonous article, to putter around the garden 
or workshop, or to engage in almost any repetitious activity in the 
absence of deep interest, eventually a time arrives when one has 
had enough. Quite apart from fatigue, sleepiness, and distraction 
from other compelling activities, the interest in the occupation 
sooner or later declines. The child plays with one toy for a time 
and then grows tired of it; he next turns to a new plaything and 
is engrossed with it for a while, later preferring still a third, and 
so on. His interest in some toys declines with weeks of habituation 
to them, but his enthusiasm for others increases under the same con- 
ditions. If any individual is urged to continue an activity which has 
become uninteresting, oversatiation with negative behavior results. 

The kind of satiation that depends upon a physiological state, 
such as satisfying of food hunger by eating, the satiation of thirst 
with water, and of all urges which are abated by their consum- 
matory reactions, is quite a different process from the type of satia- 
tion with which we are here concerned. In Karsten's examples of 
mental satiation for initially interesting activities, the physiological 
basis is not clearly apparent. The motivation was furnished by the 
instruction of the experimenter "to repeat the activity as long as 
inclined to do so," which instruction determined the subjects volun- 
tarily to continue their laboratory tasks. The interest in the activi- 
ties was a secondary factor of motivational significance. 

Perseveration. Experiences which are vital to us are not in- 
stantly forgotten; they tend to recur for days or even for years^: a 
remark made by someone we are eager to make a good impression 
upon, or by us to him; a song for which we have tender associa- 


tions; or an incident In connection with applying for a much- 
coveted job; or a date with a much-admired friend, etc. These 
vitally important experiences live on as memories. Their persistence 
Is called perseveration. 

Further illustrations o the process can easily be found in daily 
life. The public speaker who returns home, after delivering a care- 
fully prepared speech, finds himself for hours turning over in his 
mind the phraseology used in his address, the points he made, the 
laughs and other reactions obtained from the audience, the persons 
present, and many such details. The dance or social event of the 
evening is reviewed late into the night; remarks that were made 
are repeated over and over; facial expressions, gestures, and petty 
incidents are relived. The memories of the affair hang on for days, 
but gradually they wear down as other activities and experiences 
furnish distraction and crowd them out. 

The melody running through one's head is another familiar in- 
stance o this phenomenon. A few days ago I heard a symphony 
orchestra play Tschaikovsky's Symphony, No. 6, Pathetique. Since 
then parts of that symphony have been running through my head, 
especially the famous Allegro in 5/4 tempo. I have repeatedly heard 
this symphony in the past, and have played parts of it in piano duet 
form. Clearly, then, there Is in my nervous system some organiza- 
tion corresponding to that particular musical pattern; but the organ- 
ization was idle until this orchestral performance started something 
going. It is certain that these melodies running through my head 
will quiet down in a few days or weeks. 

The essential features of perseveration are the persistence of an 
activity and its gradual subsidence. The perseverating activities are 
not carried on voluntarily, as in the examples of the previous sec- 
tion, but apparently in an automatic way quite outside the field of 
volition. Whether one views perseveration as the persistence of an 
activity or as a gradual subsidence, the motivational process is one 
and the same. 

There is no conscious determination to continue the activity, as 
there is in Karsten's examples of mental satiation. On the contrary, 
the individual often wants to forget, tries to forget the perseverating 
experiences, and cannot do so. They seemingly run along of them- 
selves until quiescence is at last restored. Superficially considered^ 


perseveration appears to be a process of tranquillizing an organism 
which has been in an excited state. 

Very little is understood at present about the motivation of per- 
severating activities. Regardless of the ultimate explanation, the 
author's hypothesis is that every activity in progress, without excep- 
tion, is motivated. Every instance of repeated activity which grad- 
ually ceases is caused by some continuing and finally subsiding 
motivating condition. 

Lewin explains the persistence of repeated activities and their 
gradual subsidence in terms of mental tension. That is, within the 
personality are mental structures which may exist in a passive state 
or in a state of tenseness. Experiences build up tensions which must 
then find release. It is much as if there were a certain amount of 
energy in the mind which gradually dissipated itself, just as a 
clock, wound up, will run down and remain inert until some one 
winds it again. The main difficulty with this view is that we do 
not yet understand physiologically what is meant by mental tension. 

Possibly the tension is a persisting state of heightened excitability 
in the neurons which is brought about by a vivid and subjectively 
important experience. Possibly it is an actual tension, or tonic state, 
in some group of smooth or striped muscles, as in postural adjust- 
ments. Future research holds the -answer. 


The psychological conceptions of need, desire, want, craving, and 
wish are interrelated. They are also closely akin to the conceptions 
of appetite and aversion (pp. 271-278), though the latter fall more 
naturally in the chapter upon positive and negative behavior. 

Need, Desire, Craving. In a previous section (pp. 80-81) need 
was defined as a requirement for the survival of an organism 
which can be described objectively, and the term was distinguished 
from conscious desire. Our definition of need is not held to con- 
sistently by psychologists, but all recognize the importance of the 
facts of need and desire. 

In the opening paragraph of his Social Psychology Allport refers 
to need as follows: "The essential formula for behavior is as follows: 
(i) Some need is present in the organism, such as the necessity of 
withdrawing from weapons injuring the body, or the need to ob- 


tain food or to secure a mate. The need may also be of a derived 
and complex order; for example, the necessity of solving some 
problem upon which the satisfaction of the more elementary wants 
depends. (2) The organism acts; it behaves in such a manner as 
to satisfy the need." 

Dunlap believes that desire is a fundamental category in psy- 
chology. Desires are "actual facts in the organism of the same order 
as the muscular and glandular activities which are classified now 
as instincts, now as habits." Regarding the physiological basis of 
desire Dunlap writes: "While we might guess at the tissues in 
which certain of these desires occur, I do not consider their physio- 
logical assignment the matter of primary importance at present." 
About the same time (1922), however, in a footnote of his Elements 
of Scientific Psychology, he tentatively assigned a tissue basis to 
nine fundamental desires, suggesting the following relationships: 


Aliment (food, drink)) A , . . i j 

P . v '\ Alimentary canal and urinary system 

Rest ) o j i 

. . . > Striped muscles 

Activity] r 

o^ j t (Skin, mucous membrane, and connec- 

( tive tissue 

Conformity and preeminence Circulatory and respiratory systems 

o n y I Sexual organs 

He adds that there is some reason to believe that activity of skeletal 
muscle is important in all desires. 

The above classification professes to be based upon anatomical 
and physiological distinctions, and in this respect it is similar to 
the classification of appetites. But it appears to postulate desires 
which have no known tissue basis but which are primarily depend- 
ent upon the social environment, such as "conformity" and "pre- 
eminence." The tissue basis for these postulated desires is specula- 
tively assumed. Further research will doubtless reveal the bodily 
states which determine desires, and then relationships which gen- 
eralize known facts can be described. 

When desires are very intense it is customary to speak of them 
as cravings, The intense desires induced by certain drugs furnish 



excellent illustrations of cravings. Repeated use o morphine brings 
about profound changes in behavior. The addict is restless at night 
and kritable and depressed in the day. As the effects of a dose 
gradually wear off there may be a sense of weakness and melan- 
cholia. The addict may become a liar or a cheat. The craving for 
morphine has been experimentally induced in monkeys; when de- 
prived of the drug their bodies show agonized contortions and 
when given it again their manner becomes one of quiescence and 
peace. The intense yearning which morphine addicts experience 
depends upon a chemical adaptation within the body, possibly 
within the nervous system, and the cure when found will doubtless 
be chemical in nature. 

The Wants of Children*. The term "want" is another which 
overlaps the meanings of "need," "desire," and "craving." It is a 
mistake to assume that these words mark off any very distinct 
psychological differences. They are, in fact, used interchangeably 
to a high degree. The distinctive meaning of "want" is the notion 
of something lacking or absent, i.e., wanting, which is sought for. 

With all these terms there is a common danger that of pseudo- 
explanation of the kind met in careless explanation by instincts. 
Consider as an illustration a study made by Miss Berne. She ob- 
served during 540 hours the overt behavior of seven children, from 
two to four and a half years of age, and asked always this question: 
"What wants, implicitly or explicitly recognized by the children, 
or unrecognized, were the children seeking to satisfy ?" 

A great many items of behavior in a variety of situations were 
observed, and from the results a classification of wants was worked 
out. In their non-social behavior the children appeared to be satis- 
fying primarily the wants for eating, drinking, sleeping, and ex- 
creting, and secondarily wants for moving, vocalizing, observing, 
touching, and quiescence. The social behavior was said to satisfy 
a great variety of wants. The latter were grouped into six classes, 
the wants for: (i) aloof observation of other persons, (2) coopera- 
tion with other persons, (3) self-conformance (to conform to the 
behavior patterns of others), (4) others' conformance (to have 
others act like one's self and agree with one), (5) self-determina- 
tion (to make one's own decisions without interference from others), 


and (6) self -superiority (to be more successful and competent than 

The weakness of such classifications is the lack of an objective 
criterion of want. Miss Berne writes: "The behavior patterns of 
eating, drinking, sleeping, and excreting satisfied respectively the 
primary organic wants for eating, drinking, sleeping, and excret- 
ing." Again: "Talking, yelling, screaming, clucking, jabbering, 
squawking, squealing, humming, whispering, grunting, 'reading,' 
'counting,' weeping, and laughing, grouped under the pattern of 
vocalization, seemed to be satisfying the want for vocalization." In 
these examples the conception of want adds nothing to the bare 
statement that the child acts in the specific ways mentioned. To 
say that the child wants to eat, tells nothing about the bodily 
mechanisms of food hunger. One can equally well say that the 
child eats because he has a faculty, an instinct, or a propensity for 

A number of years ago the writer made some observations upon 
the wants of children. Children are excellent subjects for studies 
of motivation because they express wants quite openly and with 
little of the subtlety, finesse, and inhibition which are present with 

The method was merely to observe all bits of behavior which 
seemed indicative of want and to write the facts on an index card 
as soon as possible after the observation. In no case did the child 
knew he was being observed. In this way numerous incidents were 
recorded upon several children. 

No attempt was made to classify wants or desires. The question 
asked was merely this: "What do the records tell about the psycho- 
logical nature of want and desire? How can the psychological 
problem of want be formulated?" 

A number of the records are reproduced below to illustrate princi- 
ples involved in behavior which manifests wanting. 

i. A boy, five years old, and his brother about three are seated 
side by side in the dining car of a train. One plate of ice cream is 
between them. The older boy takes this and holds it to one side 
where the smaller boy cannot reach it and then starts to eat. The 

* Material in parenthesis has been added by the author. 


smaller boy stretches out both hands toward the plate but fails 
to touch it. He turns to his mother and cries loudly. 

2. In the above situation the smaller boy .dips his hands in the 
finger bowl. He then reaches over and. uses the finger bowl of his 
brother, then his own again. His mother moves tie finger bowl 
out of reach. He reaches toward it; he stands on his chair and 
again reaches. His mother takes him by the arm and starts to leave 
the dining car. He cries, holds back, reaches with one hand toward 
the table. Finally he throws himself down upon the floor and cries. 
His mother picks him up and carries him out, still crying. 

3. Jimmy, aged seven months, is in a baby carriage. He makes 
up-and-down movements with arms and legs. One hand grasps the 
side of the carriage, and he pulls himself part way up to a sitting 
posture and then falls back. There are more slashing movements, 
and again the baby pulls himself part way up and falls back. Mrs. 
D, observing the behavior, comments: "He wants to sit up." 

4. Teddy, aged five years, is left inside the house at the beach 
while his father and mother prepare to leave in a rowboat. Through 
the window he sees the boat and all the preparations for departure. 
He says, "I want to go." He tries the front door and finds it locked. 
Then he runs to the back door, still crying, and around the house 
to the water front. As the boat starts he says, "I want to go, Mama; 
I want to go." He continues crying as the boat leaves and wades 
out a few feet into the water. He runs along the shore beside the 
boat and finally has to be carried crying into the house. 

In the above examples want is behavior directed toward some ob- 
jective. There is a specific determination "to eat ice cream," "to 
play with a finger bowl," "to sit up in a baby carriage," "to go for 
a ride in the boat." It is because these determinations are blocked 
that the want is apparent. The want expresses itself: (a) by persist- 
ent behavior directed toward the objective, (b) by crying, (c) by 
resisting any change which removes the individual farther from 
the objective, (d) by aimless movements, (e) by verbal behavior in 
which the word "want" or its equivalent is used, (/) by taking a 
detour to the objective. The taking of a roundabout path (detour, 
Umweg) to reach the objective, as when Teddy in example 4 went 
directly away from the boat to the back door of the house and then 
around to the water front, is a well-known characteristic of human 
and animal behavior. This type of behavior has been noted especially 
by Kohler in his studies of the behavior of chimpanzees. 

5. Sally, aged seven years, at supper: "I don't want any beans." 


Q: "Why don't you want them?" 
S: "Because I don't like them." 
Q: "Why don't you like them?" 
S: "Because I don't." 

6. Vivian, aged five: "I want to go upstairs and see John." 
Q: "Why do you want to see him? He's working." 

V: "I want to see him work." 

Q: "Why do you want to see him work?" 

F; "Because I want to talk to him." 

Q: "Why do you want to talk to him?" 

V: "Because I want to." 

Q: "But why do you want to?" 

V: "Because . . ." (no further answer). 

7. Marian, aged eight years: 

Q: "Suppose some one should say, Til give you everything you 
want/ what would you say?" 

M: "Would it be Mother or some stranger who asked?" 

Q: "Suppose your Mother should say, 1 will give you every 
thing you want,' what would you ask?" 

M: "You just want to hear me talk." 

Q: "Well, I'm not going to give you anything now but sup- 
pose your Mother would." 

M: "I want a little Bible with pictures in it." (The family are 
Quakers and religious.) 

Q: "Suppose you had the Bible, what would you want next?" 

M: (Named several kinds of flowers and asked for a bunch 
of each; the scene was in a garden.) 

8. Q: (out of a clear sky): "What do you want?" 
Teddy, aged five: "Nothing" (playing with a tin horn). 

Examples 5, 6, 7, and 8 are typical results of an attempt to ques- 
tion children about their wants. In general, the method is futile. 
To the child, wants, likes, desires are ultimate; when expressed 
verbally there is little more to be said. The question "Why?" simply 
brings a reiteration of the want. Persistent questioning may make 
the child suspicious (example 7). Example 8 is interesting. The 
child playing happily with his toy replies that he wants nothing. 
If, however, he were deprived of his toy in order to wash his ears 
or dress, there would doubtless appear an emphatic want to con- 
tinue playing. 

9. Tommy, five years and seven months, at the breakfast table. 
His mother: "Tommy, eat your mush." 


Tommy: "I don't want to." (He makes squirming move- 
ments with arms, shoulders and hands; he is restless.) 
10. Tommy brings pencil and paper to the breakfast table. His 
mother: "Now sit up here and eat your breakfast." 

Tommy: "I don't want to eat; I want to draw." 
His mother repeats the request. Tommy whimpers and starts to 

u. Tommy is in the parlor and his mother starts to take him up- 
stairs to bed. Tommy: "I don't want to go to bed." 

He throws his arms and legs about, cries. He is taken by the 
arm and led toward the staircase and up. He resists every step and 
holds back as if determined not to go but rather to stay down. 

12. Tommy arrives in an auto in time to see his brother cross 
the street and go toward a rowboat at the water's front. He attempts 
to get out of the auto before it has stopped, but is held back. He 
says: "I want to go." 

He makes struggling movements and then starts to cry while his 
mother holds him. After the auto comes to a standstill he gets out 
and runs to the boat. 

Examples 9, 10, 11, and 12, observed within a period of two weeks 
on the same child, indicate that, when a want is blocked, aimless 
movements are likely to occur. In the first three of these cases, not 
wanting to do something appears when a determination to do 
something else is disturbed. 

13. Dorothy, aged twelve, spends much time reading books, and 
her parents do not wish her to become over-bookish. One day her 
father suggests taking- a walk down the beach. 

Dorothy: "I don't want to go." 

Her father starts and asks her to come along. Dorothy holds 
back, finally starting, but staying decidedly in the rear. She walks 
slowly as if determined to remain at home. The following conversa- 
tion occurred between the writer and Dorothy. 

Q: "Do you want to come?" 

D: "No." 

Q: "Why don't you want to come?" 

D: "I don't know." 

Q: "Is there anything else you want to do?" 

D: "Yes, I want to stay home and read." (She laughs.) 

The situation described in example 13 with minor variations oc- 
curred repeatedly. The verbal suggestion "Let's take a walk" was 


not effective in creating a want to walk, for Dorothy was deter- 
mined to continue reading and to live in her world of phantasy; 
the determination was firmly established. 

14. Three children had been promised a ride in a speedboat. 
Then they were told they couldn't go. This brought crying and 
obvious disappointment expressed by a general downcast manner as 
well as verbally. Later they were told they could go; at this they 
jumped vigorously up and down, making vocal cries expressing 
delight. In a good many other cases of our record the attainment of 
something desired was seen to bring obvious joyful behavior. 

15. The following has been given me by E. E. Anderson: 
"The little girl at my rooming house (aged one year, eleven 

months) seems to enjoy my company and I often stop to talk to 
her a few minutes. When I turn to go and tell her goodbye, she 
often says 'Don't go, 5 and runs and shuts the door if it is open. If 
already closed, she leans up against it to hold it shut. My usual 
procedure is to open the door gently and go out, but she has never 

Anderson comments: "I think it is legitimate to interpret this 
behavior as the expression of want, but there is apparently no gross 
blocking of the child's activity, and no crying." It seems to the 
present writer, however, that the incident does involve blocking of 
activity. It demonstrates clearly that thwarting does not always lead 
to crying, and this fact suggests the desirability of a study of the con- 
ditions under which crying does and does not occur. 

All the above illustrations of wants in children have one feature 
in common: there is a specific determination to act, combined with 
circumstances which prevent this determination from operating 
freely. It is the blocking or inhibition which creates the want, or 
at least which makes it apparent in the behavior of children. Hence 
an analysis of want should be integrated with the study of specific 

The Freudian Wish. In Freud's psychology and in the dy- 
namic psychologies which have grown out of it or been influenced 
markedly by Freudianism, the conception of the wish plays a domi- 
nant role. In popular psychology the wish is typically a conscious 
desire or want for something which is lacking. In psychoanalysis 
the wish is a "motive force which determines die flow of dynamic 


mental processes to seek discharge of their tension, without neces- 
sarily implying awareness of the motivation."* 

The implication that a wish may be at times unconscious and still 
a motivating factor goes contrary to popular usage, but it fits in well 
with sound doctrines of determination as set forth in this book. 
Indeed, some doctrine of unconscious motivation is essential to any 
adequate psychology. 

Freud, as every magazine reader knows, has set forth his view 
that day-dreams are wish fulfilments in phantasy, and that night 
dreams are also imaginary fulfilments of unrealized wishes. This is 
especially obvious in children. The child wants a toy and dreams 
he possesses it. With adults there is generally a censorship which 
prevents the true and complete expression of a wish, but the wish 
crops out nevertheless in symbolic or distorted form. 

It has been told that the men who went to the North Pole with 
Peary and who were forced by circumstances to live on pemmican 
and the simplest Arctic Zone diet, repeatedly dreamed of the delica- 
cies of New York restaurants. In their sleep they smoked fine cigars 
and drank highballs. The dreams gave a substitute satisfaction, an 
imaginal wish fulfilment. 

Mistakes of speech, according to Freud, are often motivated by 
some wish. Dr. Brill has illustrated this by relating a story told by 
a patient. She had attended a dance that continued until about n 
P.M. At that time everyone present expected a substantial repast, 
but instead only sandwiches and lemonade were served. The guests 
were all disappointed, but politely suppressed the symptoms of 
their true feeling. At the time, Theodore Roosevelt was running 
for president, and one of the guests while discussing politics with 
the host expected to say: "There is one fine thing about Teddy, he 
always gives you a square deal" Instead he concluded with "a 
square meal," much to the embarrassment of all. 

Wish fulfilment, according to Freud, is also illustrated by the 
breaking of objects we heartily dislike, and by the losing or mis- 
placing of things we really do not want. Rubbers, umbrellas, and 
other nuisances are commonly lost. On the other hand, it Is a high 
compliment to the host for a guest to leave behind him a handbag, 

* Warren, H. C. Dictionary of psychology. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1934. Pp. x + 372. 
(Second definition of wish.) 


handkerchief, or other valued object because this indicates a wish 
to return. Although there is doubtless truth in this Freudian doc- 
trine, it Is not difficult to recall exceptions. Many valued articles 
have been lost and broken; many mistakes in speech depend on 
fatigue or distraction rather than a wish. 

Sexual wishes become suppressed by antagonistic attitudes derived 
from the social environment. Ideas of purity, decency, morality, 
sin, and the like, are built up gradually in the individual through 
processes of education in home, school, church, and elsewhere. 
Mental attitudes and determinations thus acquired may suppress 
the free biological reactions of sex. This is likely to lead to per- 
versions and in more unstable individuals to induce neurotic symp- 
toms. The word "prudery" describes attitudes and behavior antag- 
onistic to the natural sexual wish. 

In a book which bears the title of this section, Holt has developed 
a physiological interpretation of the Freudian wish. The wish, he 
points out, is embodied. It is a determination for some course of 
action which the bodily mechanism is capable of carrying out. In 
other words, the wish physiologically is a specific determination, 
whether or not the individual is clearly aware of it. Holt has de- 
scribed it as a "motor attitude." 

It is probably true that the range of facts explained by the Freu- 
dian wish can be adequately accounted for in terms consistent with 
known bodily mechanisms. Sublimation, for example, can be de- 
scribed as a reorientation of the individual, a changing of his goal- 
sets in accordance with well-known principles of motivation. 
Repression can be interpreted in terms of inhibition or thwarting of 
determinations. Unconscious wishes can be regarded as bodily sets. 
The scientific account of motivation deals to a large extent with 
unconscious determinants. 

Summary and Conclusion. Behavior is directed and regu- 
lated by bodily postures whether grossly apparent or impercepti- 
ble and by inner neural sets which are the bodily counterpart of 
conscious purposes and desires. The adjustment of an individual to 
his task involves a variety of interrelated factors, a number of which 
have been studied experimentally. Among these are: the subject's 
understanding of the nature of his task, his method of working, 
the visual and other sensory guidance which he may utilize in carry- 


ing out an activity, his preparatory set as established by the quantity 
of the work initially presented, a knowledge of the results of his 
work, and a group of factors which go to make up what is com- 
monly called "attitude/ 5 such as enthusiasm, interest, and self-re- 

Behavior is constantly limited and restricted by the bodily struc- 
ture of the individual. This structure includes gross anatomical 
formations of the nervous system and acquired neural organization, 
especially that which determines verbal behavior. This neural struc- 
ture not only restricts behavior within certain limited channels; it 
also opens up new possibilities in the way of future activities. 

Neural structure may be latent, or it may be dynamically active. 
A distinction must be drawn between latent organization and dy- 
namic determination, and this distinction is valid whether the prob- 
lems of motivation be approached through a study of behavior and 
its physiological basis, or through an analysis of conscious experi- 
ence and its conditions. Class-room tests of knowledge and psy- 
chological measurements of attitude are aimed at diagnosing mental 

A dynamic determination may be highly specifica set to carry 
out a particular act, as, for example, to mail a letter; or it may be 
a very general readiness, as an inclination to converse upon some 
topic. The various facts of determination can be described also in 
terms of mental tension and release. 

Needs, desires, cravings, wants, and wishes are all commonly re- 
garded as motivating factors and are all interrelated. They are also 
closely allied to appetites and aversions, which will be considered 
in the next chapter. 

Specific determinations (bodily posture, delayed reaction, organic set). 

1. COMPTON, R. K. } and YOUNG, P. T. A study of organic set: immediate repro- 

duction of spatial patterns presented by successive points to different senses. 
/. Exper. Psyc/wL, 1933, 16, 775-797- 

2. DARWIN, C. The expression of the emotions in man and animals. New York: 

D. Appleton, 1913 (London: Murray, 1872). Pp. vi -f 37 2 - 

3. FEARING, F. Reflex action, a study in the history of physiological psychology. 


Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins, 1930. Pp. xiv -f 350. (Chap. 13, The 
reflex maintenance of posture, pp. 218-231.) 

4. GUNDLACH, R., ROTHSCHILD, D. A., and YOUNG, P. T. A test and analysis of 

"set." /. Exper. PsychoL, 1927, 10, 247-280. 

5. HUNTER, W. S. The delayed reaction in animals and children. Behav. Monog., 

1913, 2, No. 6. Pp. 86. 

6. HUNTER, W. S. The delayed reaction in a child. PsychoL Rev., 1917, 24, 74-87. 

7. JERSILO, A. T. Mental set and shift. Arch. PsychoL, 1927, 14, No. 89. Pp. 82. 

8. LANGWORTHY, O. R. The control of posture by the central nervous system. 

PhysioL Rev., 1928, 8, 151-190. 

9. MCALLISTER, W. G. A further study of the delayed reaction in the albino rat. 

Comp. PsychoL Monog., 1932, 8, No. 37. Pp. 103. (See bibliography for 

references to Hunter, Walton, Yarborough, Ulrich, Yerkes, Tinklepaugh, 

Maier, Honzik, et al.) 
10. MAGNUS, R. Korperstellung, Experimentell-physiologische Untersuchungen uber 

die Einzdnen bei der Korperstellung in Tatigfait ire ten den Reflexe, uber 

ihr Zusammenwir^en und ihrt Stdrungen. Berlin: J. Springer, 1924. Pp. 

xiii -f" 740. 
n. MAY, M. A. The mechanism of controlled association. Arch. PsychoL, 1917, 

5, No. 39. Pp. iv + 74. (References on set.) 

12. SRALET, M. The significance of delayed reactions in young children. Camp. 

PsychoL Monog., 1931, 7, No. 34. Pp. 82. 

13. SZYMANSKI, }. S. Abhandlungen zum Aufbau der Lehre von den Handlungen 

der Tiers. Arch /. d. ges. PhysioL, 1918, 170, 220-237, esp. 233-237. (This 
paper gives twenty-nine references to articles illustrating different postures 
in animals.) 

14. TITCHENER, E. B. Lectures on the elementary psychology of feeling and atten- 

tion. New York: Macmillan, 1908. Pp. ix + 404. 

15. YOUNG, P. T. The phenomena of organic set. PsychoL Rev., 1925, 32, 472- 

478. (See also above references i and 4.) 

The so-called "will" factor 

16. BOOK, W. F, and NORVELL, L. The will to learn, an experimental study of 

incentives in learning. Ped. Sem. t 1922, 29, 305-362. 

17. EBERT, E., and MEUMANN, E. Uber einige Grundfragen der Psychologic der 

UbungspMnomene im Bereiche des Gedachtnisses. Arch. f. d. ges. PsychoL, 
1904, 4, 1-232. 

1 8. LURIA, A. R. The nature of human conflicts, or emotion, conflict, and will; an 

objective study of disorganization and control of human behavior. Trans. 
W. H. Gantt. New York: Liveright, 1932. Pp. xvii -f- 431. 

19. POPPELREUTER, W. Nachweis der Unzweckmassigkeit die gebrauchlichen Asso- 

ziationsexperimente mit sinnlosen Silben nach dem Erlernungs- und Tref- 
ferverfahren zur exakten Gewinnung elementarer Reproduktionsgesetze 
zu verwenden. Zsch. f. PsychoL f 1912, 61, 1-24. 


20. SMYTH, A. H. 7 'he life and writings of Beiijamin Franklin. Vol. V, 1905. 

(Letter dated London, Sept. 19, 1772.) 

21. WHITING, H. F. ? and ENGLISH, H. B. Fatigue tests and incentives. /. Exper. 

PsychoL, 1925, 8, 33-49. 

22. WOODWORTH, R. S. Voluntary phenomena experimental. PsychoL Bull., 1911, 

8? 375-78- (References to N. Ach, A. Michotte, and E. Priim, and other 
important investigations on volition.) 

Adjustments of the subject to Ms task (quantitative set, visual guidance, 
method of learning, understanding of task, knowledge of results, attitude). 
The factor of habit 

23. ANTHONY, K., McGAHEY, M. L., and STRONG, E. K., JR. The development of 

proper attitudes toward school work. School & Society, 1915, 2, 926-934. 

24. ARPS, G. F. Attitude as a determinant in spelling efficiency in immediate and 

delayed recall. /. Educ. PsychoL, 1915, 6, 409-418. 

25. ARPS, G. F. A preliminary report on "Work with knowledge versus work 

without knowledge of results." PsychoL Rev., 1917, 24, 449-455. 

26. BILLS, A. G., and BROWN, C. The quantitative set. /. Exper. PsychoL, 1929, 

12, 301-323. 

27. CRAWLEY, S. L. An experimental investigation of recovery from work. Arch. 

PsychoL, 1926, 13, No. 85. Pp. 66. 

28. FREEMAN, G. L. The influence of attitude on learning. /. Gen. PsychoL, 1930, 

3, 98-112. 

29. JAMES, W. The principles of psychology. Vol. L New York: Holt, 1890. 

Pp. xii + 689. 

30. JOHANSON, A. M. The influence of incentives and punishment upon reaction 

time. Arch. PsychoL, 1922, 8, 54. 

31. JUDD, C. H. Practice without knowledge of results. PsychoL Monog., 1905, 7, 


32. PAVLOV, I. P. Lectures on conditioned reflexes; twenty-five years of objec- 

tive study of the higher nervous activity (behaviour) of animals. Trans. W. 
H. GANTT and G. VOLBORTH. New York: International Publishers, 1928. 

Pp. 414* 

33. Ross, C. C. An experiment in motivation. /. Educ. PsychoL, 1927, 18, 337- 


34. SPENCER, L. T. The effects of practice without knowledge of results. Amer. 

/. PsychoL, 1923, 34, 107-111. 

35. SYMONDS, P. M., and CHASE, D. H. Practice vs. motivation. /. Educ. PsychoL, 

1929, 20, 19-35. 

36. WOHLGEMUTH, A. Simultaneous and successive association. Brit. J. PsychoL, 

1914-15, 7, 434-52. 

Organization and dynamic determinations (limiting structure, latent organi- 
zation, verbal control of behavior, attitudes and their measurement, tension- 
release, satiation, perseveration). In the following list references numbered 37, 



40, 46, 48, 49, 50 refer to the measurement of attitudes; and those numbered 38, 

41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 53 refer to the psychology of Kurt Lewin.* 

37. BAIN, R. Theory and measurement of attitudes and opinions. Psychol. Bull., 

*93> 27, 357-379- 

38. BROWN, J. F. The methods of Kurt Lewin in the psychology of action and 

affection. Psychol. Rev., 1929, 36, 200-221. 

39. DASHIELL, J. F. Fundamentals of objective psychology. Boston: Houghton 

Mifflin, 1928. Pp. xviii + 588. 

40. DROBA, D. D. Methods for measuring attitudes. PsychoL Bull, 1932, 29, 

41. KARSTEN, A- Psychische Sattigung. PsychoL Forsch., 1928, 10, 142-254. 

42. LEWIN, K. Vorsatz, Wille und Bedurfnis, mit VorbemerJ(ungen uber die 

psychischen Krafte und Energien und die Strufyur der Seele. Berlin: J. 
Springer, 1926. Pp. 92. 

43. LEWIN, K. Die psychologische Situation bei Lohn und Straje. Leipzig: S, 

Hirzel, 1931. Pp. 2 p. 1. -f 67. 

44. LEWIN, K. Environmental forces. In C. Murchison's, A handbook of child 

psychology. Worcester: Clark Univ. Press, 1933. (2nd ed.) Pp. xii -f- 
956. (Chap. 14.) 

45. LEWIN, K. A dynamic theory of personality, selected papers. Trans. D. K. 

ADAMS and K. E. ZENER. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1935. Pp. x -f 286. 

46. MURPHY, G. and L. B. Experimental social psychology. New York: Harper, 

1931. Pp. ix -f- 709. (Chap, n, Social attitudes and their measurement.) 

47. TERMAN, L. M. The measurement of intelligence, an explanation of and a com- 

plete guide for the use of the Stanford revision and extension of the Binet- 
Simon Intelligence Scale. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1916. Pp. xviii 4- 362. 

48. THURSTONE, L. L., and CHAVE, E. J. The measurement of attitude, a psycho- 

physical method and some experiments with a scale for measuring attitude to- 
ward the church. Chicago: Univ. Chicago Press, 1929. Pp. xii -f- 96. 

49. THURSTONE, L. L. Theory of attitude measurement. PsychoL Rev., 1929, 36, 


50. THURSTONE, L. L. The measurement of social attitudes. /. Abn. & Soc. Psy- 

choL, 1931, 26, 249-269. 

51. WARREN, H. C. Elements of human psychology. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 

1922. Pp. x + 416. 

52. WOODWORTH, R* S. Dynamic psychology. New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 

1918. Pp. 5 p. 1. + 210. 

53. ZEIGARNIK, B. Das Behalten erledigter und unerledigter Handlungen. Psy- 

choL Forsch., 1927, 9, 1-85. 

*As this goes to press, a new and excellent analysis of attitudes, by G. W. Allport, con- 
taining a complete bibliography, has just come to my notice. This work comprises Chap. 17 
in C. Murchison's A handbook of social psychology. Worcester, Mass.: Clark Univ. Press, 
1935. Pp. xii -f 1195. 


Need, desire, craving, want, wish (wants of children, the Freudian wish) 

54. ALLPORT, F, H. Social psychology. Boston: Houghton MifHin, 1924. Pp. 

xiv + 453- 

55. BERNE, E. VANG. An investigation of the wants of seven children. Univ. 

of Iowa Studies, Studies in Child Welfare, 1930, 4, No. 2. Pp. 61. 

56. BRILL, A. A. Fundamental conceptions of psychoanalysis. New York: Har- 

court, Brace and Co., 1921. Pp. viii -f- 344. 

57. DUNLAP, K. The elements of scientific psychology. St. Louis: C. V. Mosby 

Co., 1922. Pp. 368. 

58. DUNLAP, K. The foundations of social psychology. Psychol. Rev., 1923, 30, 

81-102. (esp. 9if.) 

59. HOLT, E. B. The Freudian wish, and its place in ethics. New York: Holt, 

1916 Pp. x + 212. 

60. KOHLER, W. The mentality of apes. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co., 

1925. Pp. viii + 342. 

61. THORNDIKE, E. L. The psychology of wants, interests and attitudes. New 

York: Appleton-Century, 1934. Pp. x -f 301. (This book is recommended 
to students of motivation, especially those parts which deal with the problem 
of reward and punishment.) 


"Paramecium at times accepts things that are useless or harmful to it, 
but perhaps on the whole less often than does man." 


Positive and negative behavior occurs in every form of life from 
man and the most highly developed animals all the way down to 
the protozoa. Some activities of seeking or avoiding are brief and 
simple; others are persistent and complex. 


Examples of Simple Acceptance and Rejection. Looking 
first at the simplest forms of life, let us examine some single-celled 
organisms and see how they react both positively and negatively to 
stimulations from their environmental fields. Illustrations of their 
positive and negative behavior are presented in Fig. 54. 

The positive reaction of an ameba is shown at A. In moving 
through the water this micro-organism thrusts out pseudopodia 
simultaneously in many directions. If the tip of a pseudopodium 
happens to come in contact with the surface of a solid body, be- 
havior at once changes; the tip attaches itself to the surface, and 
the protoplasm of the cell flows into this attached part. Other pseu- 
dopodia are withdrawn, and the protoplasm gathers itself together 
into a compact and somewhat flattened mass. After this, the ameba 
creeps slowly along the surface. An avoiding response is illustrated 
at B. When an ameba, advancing in the direction shown by the 
arrows, is stimulated by the tip of a fine glass rod at its anterior 
edge, this part of the cell contracts and the protoplasmic currents are 
redirected away from the rod, fresh pseudopodia thrusting them- 
selves out in hew directions. 

Turning now to the paramecium, we observe that negative be- 
havior is clearly evident. If a paramecium in swimming forward 






E^qrSr ; 





Fie. 54. POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE REACTIONS OF PROTOZOA. (After Jennings, explanation in 



comes in contact with a solid body, it reverses its ciliary action and 
swims backward, as shown at C. Turning a bit, the animal again 
swims forward, occupying in this avoiding response the successive 
positions indicated by numbers i to 6. If this time it comes in contact 
with a solid body as before, the whole process is repeated until 
finally the obstruction is cleared. Once again, when a drop of one- 
fiftieth per cent acetic acid is introduced by pipette onto a micro- 
scope slide which has paramecia on it, the organisms collect in 
the drop, as shown at D. They enter without an avoiding response, 
and once inside remain there, giving their negative reaction at the 
surface of separation between the drop of acid and the water. 
Just why they fail to penetrate the surface of the acid drop and thus 
escape is difficult to say. Eventually most of the paramecia on the 
slide are to be found collected inside the drop of acid, which acts 
like a trap. Superficially the reaction appears to be a positive one 
to the drop of acid, but actually it is a negative response to the in- 
side of the surface of separation. 

When, however, a drop of one-half per cent sodium chloride is 
introduced by pipette onto a similar microscope slide, the paramecia 
remain outside of it. They give their avoiding reaction this time 
at the outer surface of the drop, as illustrated at E. 

The pictures at F represent the behavior of paramecia in relation 
to water temperature. The first drawing (a) shows the infusoria 
placed in a trough of water, all parts of which are heated evenly 
to 19 C. Under these conditions they are uniformly scattered 
throughout the water. The temperature of the water in the next 
trough (b) has been raised to 38 at one end, while at the other 
end it is only 26. The paramecia are seen collected at the end with 
the lower temperature. In the third trough (<:) the water has been 
warmed to 25 at one end, while at the other it has been lowered 
to 10. Under such conditions the animals collect at the end of the 
thermal gradient having the higher temperature; this temperature 
is nearer to the optimal level for paramecia. 

Transferring our attention now to a less primitive species, we 
consider the newborn rat. Two excellent illustrations of positive and 
negative behavior are contained in Harlow's account of the reac- 
tions of this animal to tactual and thermal stimulation. The neonate, 
if placed in contact with cotton, wool, or some other soft, furry 



object at room temperature or above (23-5o C), crawls forward 
and underneath the neighboring material. This approaching activ- 
ity a positive reaction is related to the act of crawling under the 
body of the mother as in nursing or for protection. 

An example of negative reaction is found in a feeding experiment 
of Harlow. If young rats are fed with a medicine dropper, the gain 
in weight during the five-minute feeding period measures the 
quantity of food ingested. Proceeding on the basis of this fact, Har- 
low fed eight nine-day-old rats with whole cow's milk at five dif- 
ferent temperatures. The average gain in weight was: 






Average of Gains 

IV 8 

Q2.. S 





J ^ 

12.. I 

7*.. ^ 



*T*-- } 

3 3 

*/ V 

Incidentally, these figures show the importance of thermal conditions 
in regulating the quantity of food eaten. Most milk was ingested 
at a temperature of 30 C, whereas at 70 C this food was com- 
pletely rejected. This clearly illustrates positive and negative reac- 
tions to food on the basis of its temperature. 

Beneception and Nociception. An organism generally in- 
clines to accept foods that are good for it and to reject those 
that are harmful. Also it tends to avoid injury and all stimulations 
which damage the tissues. It is prone to reproduce, to feed and 
care for the young, in these ways furthering the expansion and 
continuity of the species. There is not necessarily, on the part of 
the organism, any conscious foresight of the consequences of be- 
havior, but by and large, living creatures do act so as to preserve 
themselves and their kind. Philosophers have explained this by 
postulating instincts of self- and of race-preservation. The weal-and- 
woe doctrine has been reformulated by Troland, who coined the 
words which head this section. His definitions follow: 

BENECEPTION A process in a sense-organ or afferent nerve chan- 
nel which is indicative of conditions or events that are typically 
beneficial to the individual or species. 

NOCICEPTION A process in a sense-organ or afferent nerve chan- 


nel which Is indicative of conditions or events which are typically 
injurious to the individual or species. 

NEUTROCEPTION Any kind of sensory process which is neither 
beneceptive nor nociceptive. 

As examples of beneception Troland mentions: erotic excitation; 
gustatory stimulation from sugars (for the detection of carbohy- 
drate substances which furnish the essential fuel for muscular activ- 
ity); olfactory afferent responses to the ethereal, aromatic, and 
balsamic odors which are indicative of the presence of fresh vege- 
table products useful as food; the tactual feeling of warmth which 
indicates the proximity of heat energy needed in cold environments 
to restore the temperature equilibrium of the body. Troland sug- 
gests the following as examples of nociception: pain excitation from 
damage of the tissues ; organic stimulations from such bodily condi- 
tions as hunger, excessive heat or cold, need for air or water, need 
to micturate or defecate, etc. These bodily stimulations indicate the 
existence of conditions which are detrimental to the integrity of 
the organism or the species. A bitter taste frequently bespeaks the 
presence of poisonous, alkaloidal materials which are dangerous 
to life. Salty- and sour-tasting substances are nociceptive at high in- 
tensities. The alliaceous, caprillic, nauseating, and other repugnant 
odors identify materials as unwholesome or injurious if used as 
foods. Finally, neutroceptive processes are illustrated by sensory re- 
actions neither beneficial nor harmful which occur in perceiving 
weak noises, colors of medium brilliance, indifferent odors, and so 

Troland's criterion of nociception and beneception is biological 
survival. Organisms have gradually evolved in such a way that in 
the long run their behavior furthers their survival and that of the 
species. How this has come about is the involved but fascinating 
story of biological development. 

Troland specifically spurns the traditional biological theory 
which associates pleasantness with objects and situations beneficial 
to the individual or species and unpleasantness with tho$ which are 
detrimental. If the reader will follow through Troland's examples, 
however, he will discover that the illustrations of beneception def- 
initely suggest pleasant feeling whereas those of nociception suggest 
unpleasantness. Although the critical student can readily discover 


exceptions, such as those found In the spheres of medication and 
the addiction to drugs, it is generally true that pleasantness is asso- 
ciated with beneception and unpleasantness with nociception. With 
only a slight stretch of the imagination, one can conjecture with 
Professor Washburn that even the ameba may have some dim 
awareness of pleasantness associated with positive reactions and of 
unpleasantness associated with avoidances. 


Two-thirds of a century ago Bain wrote that appetites are "the 
cravings produced by the recurring wants and necessities of our 
bodily, or organic life!' He mentioned the demands for Sleep, 
Exercise, Repose, Thirst, Hunger, Sex," as "the appetites most uni- 
versally present throughout the Animal tribes." The appetites of 
exercise and repose, he wrote, vary with the condition of the muscles. 
A fresh, i.e., rested, condition of the muscles stimulates a desire for 
action which, if checked, gives a feeling of intense uneasiness. Simi- 
larly after vigorous exercise there is a powerful craving for rest. 
Had Bain made a more thorough canvass of bodily needs, he doubt- 
less would have added others to his list, such as the appetites for 
defecation, micturition, and lactation. 

Bain recognized that the basis of appetite was found within the 
body. For him, as for most people today, an appetite is a conscious 
craving based upon a bodily state and associated with a positive In- 
clination. An aversion, similarly, is a conscious experience associated 
with an impulse to avoid something. 

Along with the development of objective methods in psychology 
all processes have come to be viewed as behavioral or as physiologi- 
cal activity. Objectively considered, then, appetite and aversion have 
come to apply not at all to conscious experiences, as such, but 
rather to bodily activity. Appetite is thus revealed as a persistent 
positive relation between organism and goal object; aversion as a 
negative relation. This view can best be set forth by drawing from 
the writings of Craig. 

Appetite and Consummately Reaction. For Craig, an ap- 
petite (or appetence) is externally observable as a state of agitation 
which continues as long as the appropriate stimulus object is not 
attained or withheld. When this stimulus object Is received a con- 


sutnmatory reaction occurs, after which the appetitive behavior 
ceases; and a state of relative rest ensues. 

Appetite is shown by a readiness of the organism to act, which 
readiness appears even before the appropriate stimulus object is 
encountered. For example, doves yearning to drink make incipient 
drinking reactions when water is brought to the cage before they 
can get it. Again, during the nest-building period doves show an 
innate tendency to pick up straws and another tendency to build 
them into a nest, even when the reactions have no relation to build- 
ing a particular nest. The apparent readiness for particular reac- 
tions to occur is accompanied by a relative unreadiness for others. 
This does not mean an aversion, however; a true aversion is not 
merely unreadiness; it is active avoidance. 

Aversion is a state of agitation which continues as long as a cer- 
tain disturbing stimulus object is present, but which ceases and is 
replaced by a state of relative rest when the disturbing stimulation 
ceases to act. A good illustration of aversion is found in the jealous 
behavior of the male dove. If a male sees another dove near his mate, 
he either attacks the intruder with real pugnacity or gently drives 
away the mate. 

Often there is a struggle between two appetites, as when a bird 
hesitates between going to the nest to incubate eggs and going away 
to join the flock. Craig states that he is able by watching a bird to 
predict which line of behavior will be followed, because each ap- 
petite has its own distinctive signs. The conflict may last for a con- 
siderable time and one can tell which of the opposed appetites is 
gaining control of the organism by watching the bird's reactions. 

In the dove the appearance and satisfaction of an appetite, accord- 
ing to Craig, constitute a cycle with four stages, as follows: 

1. In the absence of the appropriate object ("appeted stimulus") 
there is a state of agitation, a restlessness, revealed by increased mus- 
cular tension, varied effort, and assuming of postures and actions 
which are easily recognized as incipient consummatory reactions, 
betraying the appetite or aversion aroused. 

2. Reception of the "appeted stimulus" brings about the consum- 
matory reaction and a state of satisfaction in which there is quies- 


3. The process of satiation may go to the point of surfeiting, in 
which event an aversion or avoidance appears in behavior. 

4. There is a return from avoidance to a stage of freedom from 
the activity. This completes the cycle, and the dove is quiescent 
until the appetite is again aroused by inner physiological condi- 

Inventories of Appetites and Aversions. The list of ap- 
petites and aversions differs from species to species. An appetite for 
incubating eggs, for example, is obviously limited to egg-laying or- 
ganisms when in a particular physiological state. In conscious terms 
as William James put it "To the broody hen the notion would 
probably seem monstrous that there should be a creature in the 
world to whom a nestful of eggs was not the utterly fascinating 
and precious and never-to-be-too-much-sat-upon object which it is to 

Various inventories of human appetites and aversions have been 
made. A recent one is that of Troland. In listing the fundamental 
appetitions, which he refers to as "appetitional instincts," Troland 




Aversion to pain. 

Thermal appetitions (avoidance of extremes of heat and cold). 

Respiratory appetition (desire for air). 

Erotic appetition. 

Excretory and secretory desires, including: 

(a) Desire to micturate. 

() Desire to defecate. 

(c) Desire of the mother to nurse young. 
General desires, including: 

(a) Unrest, desire for change or novelty (as seen in "nervous- 

() Fatigue, desire for rest. 

(c) Sleep. 

An important point about the above list is that every appetition 
has a physiological counterpart which distinguishes it from the 
others. In most cases the bodily basis can be described definitely 


and in considerable detail; in the case of general unrest and in the 
craving for sleep there is still uncertainty as to the bodily basis. 

Troland has intentionally omitted certain appetitional instincts 
which lack a known bodily mechanism. The so-called instinct of 
"flight" is linked with the avoidance of pain; "disgust" is related 
to nausea. In questioning McDougall's well-known instinct doc- 
trine (pp. 162-165) Troland writes: "The alleged 'instinct of self- 
abasement* has no simple foundation, but depends upon the inter- 
play of social conditions and a number of fundamental appetitions. 
The same proposition applies to the alleged 'instinct of self-asser- 
tion. 5 Whether a man or animal is 'self-abasing, 3 or 'self-assertive' 
will depend upon which of these types of reaction is successful in 
providing his organism with food, sex gratification, relief from pain, 
etc " 

Now it must have occurred to the reader that the conception of 
appetite and aversion is inextricably bound up with the doctrine 
of drive and inclination (pp. 145-160). Inventories of appetites and 
of drives are strikingly alike. Compare Troland's list, for example, 
with the drives mentioned by Dashielh* 


Sex urge. 

Urge for maintenance of bodily temperature. 


Urge from distended condition of bladder. 

Urge from distended condition of colon. 

Urges from conditions in striped musculature. 

(a) Fatigue of striped musculature (urge to cease activity). 

(b} Rested physicochemical condition of muscles (urge to some 
kind of muscular exercise). 

(c) Tendency to follow a rhythm. 
Respiratory drive (as in suffocation). 
Avoidance of noxious stimulation to skin. 
Sensitive-zone reactions (reactions to stimulation of lips, armpits, 

and other sensitive parts). 

* The first three on the list are treated at length and the rest are discussed briefly under 
the heading: "Other organic sources of drive." There is, we might note, an ambiguity in 
the term "drive" as Dashiell uses it. "Drive" is: (i) tissue condition or tissue need; (2) 
behavior based upon (i). These two meanings, or aspects of drive, must be kept apart by 
the student of motivation, for both are frequently met in the experimental literature. 


Reactions of sensory apparatus and associated motor tissues (ob- 
servant and curiosity behavior). 

Dashieli's account of drives and Troland's discussion of appeti- 
tional instincts were published the same year. The two lists have 
marked similarity and why? The answer is that both psycholo- 
gists turned to the tissues and to bodily mechanisms as the basis 
for classification; both accepted the same physiological criterion and 
the same objective approach to the problem. Whatever differences 
exist between the lists can sooner or later be adjusted on a factual, 
observational basis. 

Another list, that made by Tolman, presupposes a somewhat dif- 
ferent attack upon the problem. His approach is on the behavioral, 
rather than the intraorganic level. The behavior of organisms, con- 
sidered as molar, has properties of its own, which are not deducible 
from a detailed knowledge of physiological processes any more 
than the properties of water can be deduced from knowledge about 
its molecules. 

Tolman has listed the following human appetites and aversions: 

Food hunger. 

Sex hunger. 

Contact hungers (minor appetites which Freud believed to be 

linked with sex, e*g., thumb-sucking, bed-wetting, feces-hold- 

Excretion hungers. 

To micturate. 

To defecate. 
Rest hunger. 
Sensory-motor hungers (esthetic and play hungers). 

He states that there appear in man only two outstanding aversions: 

Fright (avoidance of pain or injury). 

Tolman writes: "The ultimate motivators of all behavior save, 
of course, the pure reflexes and tropisms, which do not fall under 
the head of behavior qua docile are, we assume, certain innately 
provided appetites and aversions. These consist in ultimate demands 
to get to final physiological quiescences (appetites) or from final 
physiological disturbances (aversions). Given certain initiating 



physiological states which occur cyclically in the case o the appe- 
tites but are relatively constant and continuous in the case of the 
aversions, the organism is possessed o the demand to get to given 
types of physiological quiescence (appetite) ; and to keep away from 
given types of physiological disturbance, when these latter 'threaten 5 
(aversion). . . ." 

The basic difference between Tolman's classification of appetites 
and aversions, and the foregoing classifications made by Troland 
and Dashiell, lies in the fact that Tolman is contented with be- 
havioral distinctions whether or not they can be physiologically 
grounded, whereas Troland and Dashiell list as fundamental only 
those processes which can be differentiated on the basis of organic 
tissue conditions. 

Appetites and Aversions in Relation to Bodily Processes. 
When an animal steps upon a charged grill and receives a continu- 
ing electric shock he moves to escape the source of painful stimu- 
lation. This is an aversion. Physiologically, the pain-avoiding 
process is one of excitation of peripheral nerve endings, of the 
propagation of neural impulses, and of reflex responses which with- 
draw the creature from the grill. 

Compare this pain-aversion with the appetite for water. When 
an animal is thirsty there arises in the parched mouth and throat 
region persistent stimulation of peripheral nerves. The excitation of 
the free nerve endings reflexly raises the general activity level. In 
the case of thirst, however, the animal cannot run away from the 
source of painful stimulations. To remove thirst he must seek water. 
Water-seeking, of course, is positive behavior which must be classed 
as appetitive activity. 

It will be seen that both the avoidance of painful stimulation 
from the grill and the seeking of water by a thirsty animal are 
the same kind of process, physiologically. Both depend upon stimu- 
lation of peripheral nerves which mediate pain and pressure sensa- 
tion; both release energy reflexly; both lead to behavior which 
tends to remove the source of painful stimulation. 

The only obvious and outstanding difference between the two 
processes is that in the avoidance of an electric grill the stimulation 
of the nerve fibers for pain originates in the environment, whereas 
in wate/ -seeking it comes entirely from the tissues. Water-seeking 


might equally well be called thirst-pain-avoidance, and pain-avoid- 
ance might in turn be described as the seeking of safety and com- 

This discussion clearly brings out the fact that the distinction 
between appetite and aversion is important only on the behavioral 
level; physiologically it is not fundamental. That is to say, positive 
and negative behavior exists only from the behavioral point of view 
and only when the dynamic relationships between an organism 
and the stimulus objects of his environmental field are cqnsidered. 
These relations do not enter the picture when we restrict our an- 
alysis to those processes which go on within the nervous system 

Beyond doubt, behavioral distinctions can be made which are 
impossible on the basis of tissue conditions alone. The terms ap- 
petite and aversion are useful to designate persistent positive and 
negative behavior. They are also of value, in individual psychology, 
to describe the conscious experiences of striving to get toward or 
trying to get away from something. 

Incentive Character of Environmental Objects. Lewin 
has developed a plan of designating incentive objects in the environ- 
mental field by marking them with plus 

and minus signs. If a child moves towards _|_ (~\c .......... 

a toy with outstretched arms, this object 

is rated as having for the child a positive 

valence. If he moves away from -a dog, 

the animal possesses a negative valence. r_l >/^\ 

These positive and negative valences can L J 

be pictured in relation to the subject, as FIG. 55. POSITIVE AND NEGA- 

_ ,__, 1^1 j ^ J *~ TTVE VALENCES. (After Lemn.) 

m Fig. 55. Together they are used to desig- K 

t . i / A * j The plus and minus signs in 

nate the incentive character (Aufforde- the square designate the valence, 

TUngScharakter) of objects. or incentive character, of the 

T t i i- * "L obiects. The circles symbolize 

Incentive character is something which the sllt} . ect Thc arrows ^ vcc _ 

in many Cases changes Very quickly with tors representing strength, direc- 

a shift in the environmental situation or f 

with change in the inner needs of the sub- 
ject. This changeability of valence is much more marked in relation 
to young children than to adults. On the other hand, incentive char- 
acters are sometimes relatively stable, as in the case of valences which 
are dependent upon a persistent appetite or aversion. 

2 7 8 


Lewin's manner of picturing valences and field forces is highly 
intriguing, especially when it is extended to the analysis of com- 
plex situations which involve diverse valences, and corresponding 
conflict. It should be regarded and Lewin intended it to be as 
a means of representing the facts rather than as a principle of ex- 


If a child strikes another, the latter strikes back. If an animal 
bites another, the latter bites or fights in return. When a man is 
injured he seeks vengeance. The biological principle of self-defence 
is something basic in nature. An eye for an eye; a tooth for a tooth. 
This is the primitive principle of retribution. If the injured person 
is unable to take revenge, some member of his family or tribe seeks 
it for him, even if this requires many years. 

Punishment in our prisons is still in good part based upon this 
primitive code of justice. When a kidnaping for ransom has been 
perpetrated, the public demands that some injury be inflicted on the 
guilty person. A lynching illustrates the same principle. 

The greater the injury the greater the punishment demanded, and 
so man has used various pain-inflicting devices. The history of 
penology presents a hideous picture of torture, imprisonment in 
the dungeon, flogging, stoning, crucifying, and other drastic forms 
of violence which have been used to regulate and control human 
behavior. Milder forms of punishment whipping, spanking, re- 
proof, restriction of freedom, fool's cap, and so forth have been 
used from time immemorial in home and school for the social con- 
trol of children and to motivate learning. 

What constitutes punishment? From the individual standpoint, 
punishment is typically unpleasant and frequently painful; but 
unpleasant feeling also results from conditions not regarded by any- 
one as punishments, such as catching the hand on a thorn or fall- 
ing on the ice. Ordinarily we speak of punishment when unpleasant 
feeling is deliberately aroused as a means of controlling behavior. 
However, the psychological effect of an unpleasant reaction is often 
the same whether the reaction was deliberately aroused or whether 
it resulted from accidental contact with the environment. 

Whether or not a given event constitutes punishment is after all 



a matter o interpretation. What for one is a natural disaster is for 
another a punishment sent from Heaven* Although the deliberate 
infliction of pain for a misdeed is invariably regarded as punish- 
ment by the child, other forms of punishment,, such as confine- 
ment to a room or standing in the corner, are considered as such 
by one child but not by another. 

The Electric Shock as Punishment. Turning now to ani- 
mals, one finds the whip, the blow, even the verbal rebuke, em- 
ployed to control their behavior. Whether animals regard these 
inflictions of pain as punishments is a speculative question. In any 
event, mild painful stimulation does motivate animals and leads to 
a modification of their behavior. 

The electric shock has been extensively used for animal experi- 
mentation. As early as 1895, Elmer Gates, writing in the Monist, 
reported the use of shock for punishment in the training of puppies: 

The hall leading into one room of my laboratory was covered 
with squares of metal, each square insulated from the others and 
colored. These squares of metal were connected with an induction 
coil, with the exception of those of a certain color which were not 
thus connected. It was so arranged that a dog might jump from one 
square to another of the same color and thus pass through the entire 
length of the hall without getting an electric shock. To do this the 
dog had to discriminate between that color and all the other colors 
tinted upon the metal squares. An attentive dog after having been 
shown several times would learn to avoid the slight shock which 
he would invariably get when he stepped upon the wrong color. . . - 

This experiment now has only historical significance. Today the 
use of the electric shock in experiments upon animal learning and 
discrimination is so common that an exhaustive account of it would 
fill many pages. 

One advantage of the electrical punishment is the precision with 
which it can be controlled objectively, and another superiority over 
other forms of incentive usecl in the laboratory is its general ap- 
plicability to all types of organism under diverse conditions. But 
it should always be kept in mind that the same amount of current 
affects different individuals to different degrees. 

Even so lowly a creature as the earthworm can learn to avoid a 
passage in which an electric shock is regularly received. This was 


demonstrated by Yerkes in a simple T-shaped maze. In one of the 
alleys of the T-maze Yerkes placed a strip of sandpaper to serve 
as warning, and just beyond this, an electric grill. When a worm 
crept over the sandpaper and failed to turn back a shock was re- 
ceived. The avoiding habit when formed was not constant but 
varied with the physiological state (fatigue, hunger, etc.) of the 
worm and with imperfectly controlled environmental conditions 
such as temperature, moisture, and light. The shock has been used 
with rats, mice, chicks, cats, dogs, and other laboratory animals. 
In human research, too, electrical punishment has been employed 
to a considerable extent (pp. 14-16). An example of its use with 
human subjects follows: 

Bunch arranged a maze so that it would give an electric shock 
through the hand whenever a stylus was pushed to the end of a 
cul-de-sac. A group of forty students learned the maze with punish- 
ment, and a control group of forty learned it with no punishment. 

Comparing the two groups, Bunch found that punishment re- 
duced by about 50 per cent the number of trials needed to learn the 
maze; further, it decreased by about 30 per cent the total time 
required for the task. In a word, punishment speeded up human 
maze learning. 

Although the learning process as a whole was accelerated, this 
speeding-up was accompanied by increased caution. This is shown 
by the fact that the subjects, on the average, spent 34 per cent more 
time in a sing T e run when punishment was used than when it was 
lacking and this in spite of the fact just stated, that the total time 
required was decreased considerably by punishment. 

Another finding is that the subjects in the group working with 
punishment were more uniform in their performance than were 
the controls, both in the number of trials needed to learn the maze 
and in the total time required. In other Words, the variability of 
performance was decreased by punishment.* 

The Yerkes-Dodson Law. One of the ancient justifications 
for the punishment of criminals has been that punishment deters 
the individual from repeating the act when released. The same argu- 
ment applies to children and to animals. If a boy has been ignomin-r 

* It has been found repeatedly that an increased degree of motivation up to a certain 
point results in a decreased variability of performance. 



iously and painfully whipped in a fist-fight he is likely in the 
future to avoid his persecutor. An animal that has been viciously 
bitten by another is more cautious about a second attack in the 
same quarter. When a parent spanks a child for some misdeed the 
punishment tends to deter him, for a time at least, from a repeti- 
tion of the act. 

All modifications of behavior, whether 
produced by punishment or through some 
other motivating device, are by definition 
instances of learning. What is the op- 
timal intensity of punishment so far as 
the speed of learning is concerned? This 
is a question which can be answered by 
an appeal to experimental data. 

One answer to the question is found in 
the work of Yerkes and Dodson with 
dancing mice. These experimenters used 
different degrees of electric shock as pun- 
ishment. The making of a discrimination 
between two differently lighted compart- 
ments was the problem to be learned. The 
apparatus used is pictured in Fig. 56. 

Inasmuch as difficulty of the task is one 
factor in the situation, three degrees of 
difficulty were tested. In one series a pair 
of illuminations or visual brightnesses was 
chosen so that discrimination between 
them would be very easy black and 
white. In another series the discrimination 
was of medium difficulty two brightnesses moderately close together 
were used. The discrimination in the third series was difficult the 
brightnesses were very close together. 

The mice were required to select one of two entrances on the 
basis of its brightness. The relative positions of the two fields of 
light were interchanged in a haphazard manner to prevent habit 
formation on a spatial basis. If a mouse made the wrong choice, 
a shock was administered through the grill on the floor; if the 
right choice, he could return to the nest-box. The criterion of Icarn- 

B is a choice-chamber from 
which doors, L and R<> lead into 
two lighted compartments, W 
and W. Exits, E and E t lead 
down the alleys to a nest-box, 
A. A wire grid on the floor of 
the compartments is connected 
to the induction coil, 1C. Cur- 
rent from the cell, C, is con- 
trolled by the experimenter's 
key, K. 



ing was three consecutive runs without error. After a preliminary 
brightness-preference test to determine whether there were any 
unlearned inclinations the training was commenced. 

The results are shown graphically in Fig. 57. The base line of 
the figure gives the strength of the stimulus in Martin units, weak 






Medium Difficulty 

Difficult Discrimination 

Easy Discrimination 

100 200 300 400 500 



Base line represents strength of stimulus in Martin units, weak at left and strong at right. 
Vertical shows total number o trials for four mice necessary- to establish visual discrimina- 
tion habit. 

at the left and strong at the right.* The vertical gives the total 
number of trials necessary to establish the discrimination habit in 
four mice. The lower curve (dash line) presents the result with easy 
discrimination; the middle curve (solid line) shows the results with 
medium difficulty, and the upper curve (dot-dash line), with dif- 
ficult discrimination. 
In examining the curves, If we limit our consideration to the 

* Martin units are stimulation units of electrical energy. For details see reference to paper 
by Yerkes and Dodson 9 pp. 466-467. 


three points plotted at the extreme left of Fig. 57, it appears that 
the difficulty of discrimination is a very important factor in de- 
termining the result. When the brightnesses are widely separated 
(lower curve, easy discrimination) the habit is readily formed; 
when the brightnesses are quite close together (upper curve), dis- 
crimination is difficult and the habit slowly formed. This cor- 
responds to what one would expect on the basis of common-sense 
observation. In other words, for a constant motivation the more 
difficult the task the greater the number of trials needed to learn it. 

When, however, we take account of the different strengths of 
shock stimulation, it is apparent that the three curves vary con- 
siderably. With easy discrimination the rapidity of learning in- 
creases directly with the strength of the punishment. With more 
difficult discriminations (upper two curves), an increase in the 
strength of punishment brings about an initial speeding up of learn- 
ing, but only to a certain point, further increase proving disruptive 
to behavior. There is thus an optimum intensity of punishment for 
a given degree of difficulty of the task, and if the strength of 
stimulation is increased beyond this optimum, the speed of learn- 
ing is decreased rather than increased. 

Yerkes and Dodson express the principle thus: "As the difficult- 
ness of discrimination is increased the strength of that stimulus 
which is most favorable to habit-formation approaches the thresh- 
old." This principle is referred to as the Yerkes-Dodson law. 

Although the curves in Fig. 57 do not give enough detail in 
the critical region to indicate the exact location of the optima, 
they nevertheless do demonstrate the existence of such optima. 

The influence of the intensity of punishment upon the speed of 
learning was tested with chicks by Cole. When two days old the 
chicks were given a two-day training period to accustom them to 
a discrimination apparatus, and after this they were given a bright- 
ness-preference test. It was found that untrained chicks uniformly 
went to the brighter screen. In view of this. Cole determined to 
train them to select the darker. 

In the discrimination apparatus two differently illuminated 
screens were arranged side by side with a partition between them. 
Just in front of the screens were exits to the goal-box which was 
located in the rear. The illumination of the screens was well con- 



trolled by lamps placed in light-tight compartments at variable 
distances behind the screens. By adjusting the distances between the 
lamps and the screens three degrees of difficulty of discrimination 
were obtained, designated as easy, medium, and difficult. 

A damp felt pad was placed on the floor of the apparatus to 
moisten the feet of the chicks and assure an adequate electrical con- 
tact. Punishment was given through the feet every time a chick 
went to the lighter screen, and the training was continued until a 
chick made twenty consecutive choices of the darker screen. 

Cole computed the average number of trials needed for a group 
of chicks to learn the discrimination. From his results the follow- 
ing average values have been selected: 

Units of Stimulation 

Number of Trials Needed to Learn with 
Different Degrees of Difficulty 





xi. 6 




T w 


The table of results shows that with easy discrimination the speed 
of learning increases as the strength of the stimulus increases. With 
discrimination of medium difficulty an intermediate strength of 
stimulation gives the quickest learning. The latter result was 
checked and verified with a second group of chicks. So far Cole's 
results agree with the Yerkes-Dodson law. 

With difficult discrimination and strong stimulation the chicks 
divided into two groups: (a) some after a few trials ceased to try 
to escape from the apparatus and would not step on the electric 
wires, and () others made each choice with greater caution and 
learned to choose correctly in a small number of trials, each one 
of which consumed much time. The chicks which made more 
wrong choices in the early trials and consequently received rela- 
tively more pain stimulation than their successful companions never 
learned the task, because of their negative conditioning to the grill. 



Since not all the chicks learned the difficult discrimination with 
strong punishment. Cole's results are not wholly comparable with 
those of Yerkes and Dodson. The optimum punishment for the 
most difficult task was not determined. 

A third study bearing upon the principle under discussion was 
carried out by Dodson. He repeated the brightness-discrimination 
experiment with a group of kittens. If a kitten went through the 
lighter compartment, it was allowed to pass undisturbed, but if it 
attempted to escape through the darker compartment, it received 
an electric shock and was not permitted to escape. Eighteen six- 
weeks-old kittens were given ten trials per day until each selected 
the light box for three consecutive days. Three degrees of difficulty 
were used, designated as easy, moderate, difficult. There were also 
three strengths of stimulation: weak, medium, strong. 

The average number of trials necessary to form the discrimina- 
tion habit under the different conditions is given below: 

Strength of 

Average Number of Trials Required for 
Learning with Different Degrees of 











With easy discrimination the speed of habit formation increased 
directly with the strength of stimulation, which corroborates results 
of Yerkes and Dodson in the experiment described above. With 
moderate difficulty and the consequent slower learning a similar re- 
lationship existed, but it was not so marked. With difficult discrimi- 
nation a strong stimulation gave slower habit formation than one 
of medium intensity. In this latter case the optimal stimulation was 
nearer the threshold than in the case of moderate difficulty. So far 
as these results go, therefore, they are consistent with the Yerkes- 
Dodson law. 



Finally, an experiment made by Vaughn and Diserens with hu- 
man subjects is a propos of this topic because it sheds light upon 
the extent to which various intensities of punishment affect the 
rate of learning. These investigators worked with only one degree 
of difficulty, but they varied the intensity of punishment. 

Four stylus mazes approximately equal in difficulty were pre- 
pared. The mazes were so planned that whenever a subject pushed 
the stylus into a blind alley he automatically received a shock. Each 
subject was given one trial for each of three intensities of punish- 
ment and for a condition in which there was no punishment. The 
degree of punishment can be designated: absent (no punishment), 
light, medium, heavy. 

Thirty-two subjects, divided into two equivalent groups, were 
given a single trial on each of the four mazes and with each degree 
of punishment. The total time of a subject between start and finish 
was recorded. The average time for the groups, given in seconds, 


Subject Groups 

Average Time in Maze with Different 
Degrees of Punishment 









4 1 )-? 


Individual differences were marked, and in a number of cases 
individual results were opposed to the above averages. Despite this, 
the figures demonstrate that with light punishment the maze was 
traversed definitely more quickly than with no punishment. They 
show that as the intensity of punishment increased the time spent 
in the maze also increased. This general result was the same for 
both groups. 

The effect of heavy punishment was to make the subjects cau- 
tious and hesitating the same behavior that it produced in the 
chicks of Cole's study. In some instances the heavy punishment was 


disruptive, disorganizing. This was shown by an increased fre- 
quency of entrances into blind alleys, but on the other hand the 
time spent in blind alleys was shorter when the punishment was 
severe than when it was light. 

The experiments above cited upon mice, chicks, kittens, and man 
justify the following generalization: the speed with which a habit 
is formed is definitely related to the strength of the punishment 
used. If a task is easy or moderately difficult for a given subject, an 
increase in the intensity of punishment speeds up learning as shown 
by a decrease in the learning time and in the number of erroneous 
responses. But if the task is difficult, this principle does not hold. 
With a difficult task intense punishment makes the subjects cau- 
tious and negative, and it may even disrupt their behavior. For the 
learning of every activity, therefore, there is an optimum degree of 
punishment, but this optimum varies with the difficulty of the task, 
with the subject, as well as with the intensity of the pain incentive. 

Degree of Punishment versus Hunger. In an experiment 
upon rats which employed the obstruction method Holden used 
three intensities of electric shock combined with various degrees of 
hunger. She found that only the weakest shock was suitable for 
her work. The two stronger shocks were severe enough to inhibit 
the hunger drive, paralyzing the normal food-seeking behavior. 

Holden writes: "Shock 2, in general, had the effect of separating 
the animals of each starvation group into two classes: in one case 
the animals appeared to be motivated mainly by hunger and in the 
other mainly by fear. Shock 3 was so severe that it seemed to intro- 
duce an additional source of motivation which disturbed and ob- 
scured the normal hunger drive." It is a well-known fact that fear 
and hunger reactions are incompatible; when a hungry animal is 
confronted with a grave danger the gastric secretions and hunger 
contractions cease for a time. 

The results of Holden's experiment are presented graphically in 
Fig. 58. Her curves show that the weakest intensity of shock gave 
the maximum number of crossings of the electric grill They also 
reveal another interesting fact, namely, that the period of food 
deprivation which is required to give the maximal number of cross- 
ings for any constant intensity of shock varies with the degree of 



shock used. This latter fact needs to be borne in mind in interpret- 
ing all results gained by the obstruction method. That method is 
based upon the establishing o a conflict between two basic motiva- 
tions in this case hunger and pain-avoidance (fear). Any experi- 
mental result obtained by the method varies with the strength of 
either of the two opposed motivating factors. 

Effects of Punishment. Punishment in the form of painful 
stimulation, whether by the whip, a cuff on the ear, a spanking, 

36 T 

Shock 1 - weak 

Shock 2 - strong 

Shocks - very strong 

24 36 48 

Hours of Hunger 



Ordinates indicate the number o crossings; abscissae the number of hours of food depriva- 

an electric shock, or any other means, has important psychological 
effects upon the individual. One of these is an immediate motiva- 
tion apparent in the speeding up of behavior and in a rise of the 
general activity level. Just as inner stimulations release energy in the 
case of hunger, thirst, and other internal drives, so painful stimula- 
tions from the environment release energy when they excite the 
peripheral nerves. In a very true sense every stimulus which releases 
energy stored in the tissues motivates the organism. 

Another effect of punishment is the immediate negative reaction 
aroused. Mild stimulations call forth only moderate avoiding reac- 
tions, but intense ones frequently arouse fear and emotional dis- 


ruption. The modification of subsequent behavior, or learning, is 
still another effect of punishment. When an animal steps onto an 
electric grill and receives a shock he learns to avoid the place from 
which the shock came. Even after a single painful experience his 
behavior becomes hesitating, cautious, and sometimes fearful; with 
repeated experiences the animal may become permanently negative 
toward the grill. 

This learning to avoid the source of painful stimulation is rapidly 
acquired in the natural world. Schaeffer, for example, has reported 
some observations upon frogs kept in a cage under "homelike" 
conditions and fed upon insects. In from two to seven trials these 
frogs had learned to avoid such "disagreeable" foods as hairy cater- 
pillars, earthworms treated with calcium chloride or with oil of 
cloves, and a cockroach connected to an electric current so as to give 
a shock through the tongue and mouth when contact was made. 
Under laboratory conditions, however, where the problems to be 
solved are generally difficult and experimental conditions are unlike 
those in nature, the speed of learning is slow. In acquiring the 
ability to make a complex spatial discrimination, for instance, 
Yerkes found that the frog required as many as twenty to one 
hundred trials/ 

The foregoing analysis of the effects of punishment upon be- 
havior is based entirely upon experimental studies in this field. One 
experiment in particular yields findings closely in agreement with 
our interpretations. 

In this piece of work Rexroad administered punishment to his 
subjects through electrodes strapped to the palm and back of the 
left hand. The shock used was decidedly strong intense enough to 
flex the middle and fore fingers. It usually elicited the words, 
"That's about as much as I can stand." 

The task which the subjects had to learn was to discriminate 
among five colors and to select for each color the appropriate re- 
sponse key. One of five colored lights red, green, orange, blue, 
white was flashed upon a ground-glass screen in front of the ob- 
server. Each light, according to a prearranged code, corresponded 
to a particular key. When the correct key was pressed, another color 
immediately appeared and the reaction was automatically recorded 
on a counter. If the subject pressed an incorrect key, the color did 


not change and the false reaction was automatically registered on 
another counter. Moreover, when mistakes were made the subject 
was given the strong electric shock as punishment. Incidentally, an 
additional incentive was furnished by telling the subject that his 
score would be equal to the total number of reactions minus the 
number of his errors. 

At the start a punished and non-punished group were found to 
be about equal in score, but as the experiment continued the groups 
diverged. The punished individuals averaged 2.29 per cent more 
responses and 15.73 per cent greater accuracy than the unpunished. 
The differences, however, were not highly significant, and the vari- 
ability within each group was large. 

For present purposes the important point is Rexroad's interpreta- 
tion of his findings. Punishment, he states, has three effects: disrup- 
tive, incentive, and instructive. If punishment is sufficiently severe, 
it becomes disruptive to behavior: performances requiring careful 
discrimination and coordination of movement deteriorate in speed 
and precision. When milder forms of punishment are employed, it 
is instructive and incentive, the performance improving in speed 
and accuracy. When instructive^ punishment aids in defining an 
error effectively. As incentive it facilitates the avoiding of errors. 

The balance maintained among these three effects varies with the 
conditions of the experiment. The instructive effect of punishment 
is inversely proportional to the previous comprehension of the prob- 
lem; consequently it is not present at all after a certain amount of 
practice. An incentive effect shows itself in a rapid seeking out of 
some scheme for learning a given task and in a greater care exer- 
cised to avoid errors throughout its performance. The disruptive 
effect is inversely proportional to the thoroughness with which the 
habit has been established; consequently, it offsets the incentive 
effect during the learning of a code, but is offset by the incentive 
effect after the code has been learned. 


In the child, innumerable rewards bestowed by parents and teach- 
ers serve at times to control behavior. A toy, a piece of candy, a gold 
star, a penny, the opportunity to play, permission to go to the 
circus,, anything in fact which the child wants may function as a 


reward. With adults, money prizes and other material rewards, 
medals, degrees, titles, honors, decorations, and numerous other 
social recognitions act as spurs to achievement. Any end or object 
which is deliberately sought may function as a reward when- held 
out as a goal or when bestowed either by an individual or by the 
social group. 

Many of the rewards which are effective with man are wholly 
ineffectual with animals. For the brute the obvious rewards are 
those which depend for their efficacy upon the physiological state 
of the organism. To a hungry animal, food is a reward, but the same 
food may be actively rejected if the animal is already satiated. Thus 
degree of hunger has a definite relation to the reward character of 
a given food. The experiments upon drive illustrate this point so 
abundantly and convincingly that no further evidence need be cited 
here. Although the biologically fundamental goals function as re- 
wards with man just as truly as they do with animals, there are, 
as pointed out above, many other objectives which depend for their 
reward character upon man's high degree of socialization. 

A number of experiments upon animals have been made in which 
various rewards were introduced, removed, delayed, and varied in 
other ways. Inasmuch as these experiments are very instructive from 
the standpoint of motivation several of them ^will be described here. 

"Appropriateness" of Reward. To a hungry rat, food is an 
appropriate reward; to a thirsty animal, water. The appropriate 
reward is the one which satisfies a need and brings the correspond- 
ing drive to quiescence. 

To study the importance of appropriateness in reward Elliott 
systematically varied the degree of hunger and thirst in male rats, 
offering them sometimes food and sometimes water as a reward. 
There were three groups of animals, the groups differing only in 
the relative degree of hunger and thirst aroused. The table on 
p. 292 describes the groups. 

Every rat was given a daily trial on a fourteen-unit multiple-T 
maze. Running time and number of errors were scored. For the 
first nine days all groups were rewarded with bran mash; and for 
the last nine days all were rewarded with water. 

The error curve for the different groups is plotted in Fig. 59. 
During the first nine days group E learned slightly faster than 



of Group 

of Rats 

Condition of Rats 










1 G 

either F or G, and the latter two groups were about the same. This 
indicates that the double drive of hunger plus thirst was more effec- 
tive than either hunger or thirst alone, even though the reward 
was appropriate for only one of these drives. The differences be- 
tween the successive error scores for group E and those for the 
other two groups are small and of low statistical significance, but 
the result of this part of the experiment agrees with much other 
evidence in showing that added motivation brings increased activity 
and speedier learning. 

After the critical change on the ninth day the results for the three 
groups vary. With group E there was at first an increase in the 
number of errors when water was substituted for food, but the effect 
was only temporary, for at the close of the experiment group E was 
again slightly superior to the other groups. This disturbance can 
probably be attributed to the novelty of a changed situation. 

The difference in behavior of F and G when the reward was 
changed is very instructive. Before the change these groups had 
been about the same. Bran mash, containing a certain amount of 
moisture, alleviated both hunger and thirst to some degree. After 
the change the thirsty animals markedly speeded up their learning 
when water, a highly appropriate reward, was offered instead of 
food. On the other hand, the hungry animals of group F slowed 
up their learning and showed relatively little gain when water, an 
inappropriate reward, was substituted for the former appropriate 

Used in this connection the term "appropriateness" designates a 
relationship between physiological *state and environmental condi- 
tions. There are many kinds of tissue needs; for each one a partial- 



lar substance or energy change, or combination of the same, is re- 
quired to restore homeostasis. That which is needed to this end is 

- - Group E - Very hungry, v*ry thirsty 

Group F Very hungry, slightly thirsty 

.._.__ Group.G - Slightly hungry, very thirsty 

TION. (After Elliott.} 

Ordinates give average number of errors; abscissae days of experiment. All groups were 
rewarded with food for the first nine days and thereafter with water for an equal period 
of time. 

In another experiment Elliott changed both the reward and the 
drive but in such a manner that the relationship between them was 
always an appropriate one. A control group of thirty-two rats 
learned the maze with thirst motivation and water reward. An 
experimental group of thirty-four rats learned the maze for the 
first nine days under the same conditions, but on the tenth and 



following days they continued the maze under a different motivat- 
ing state. Instead of thirst, hunger was evoked; instead of water, 
food was offered. That is to say, drive and reward were changed 
simultaneously in such a manner as to keep the relationship between 
them always an appropriate one. 

111 Control 


Ordinates give average number of errors; abscissae, days of experiment. On the tenth day, 
hunger with food reward was substituted for thirst with a reward of water for the experi- 
mental group. 

The error curves for both groups (shown in Fig. 60) are normal 
learning curves in every way, despite the shift of drive and reward 
with the experimental group. The only apparent effect of this shift 
was a slight and temporary increase in errors and in running time 
when the change was made, but this can be referred to a disturbance 
of the accustomed conditions. 

Elliott concludes that rewards may be changed without affecting 
the learning curve, provided the drive is also shifted so as to main- 
tain an appropriate relationship between the two. This conclusion, 




of course, must be qualified to take account of the strength of mo- 
tivation. A shift from one set of motivating conditions to another 
makes little difference in an animal's behavior provided both mo- 
tivations are equivalent as releasers of energy and provided further 
that the goal orientation be kept constant throughout the entire 

Quantity of Reward. One way of studying different strengths 
of motivation is by varying the quantity of the reward offered. 
How does the speed of learning change with the amount of the 
reward? To get some light upon this matter, Grindley performed 
a number of experiments with chicks, 
one of which we will review. 

Two groups of twenty-seven-day- 
old chicks were used as subjects; there 
were ten in each group. One group 
solved a maze problem with a single 
grain of boiled rice offered as a re- 
ward; the other with six grains in the 
reward box. 

The apparatus, which resembled a 
simple maze, is shown in Fig. 61. The 
chick was started from a retaining 
box, R, with the problem of finding 
a way to the food, F. The rice grains were on a tray which was con- 
cealed from the chick's view when at the place of release. 

The score is based upon the reciprocal of the time taken by the 
chicks to reach the food after release. The learning curves, pre- 
sented in Fig. 62, indicate that a reward of six grains of rice is 
somewhat more effective than a reward of one grain in motivating 
learning. The difference between total scores for the two groups is 
about 29 per cent. When the experiment was repeated with twenty 
other chicks the difference was 23 per cent. 

These results are in line with our expectation on the basis of 
everyday human experience. A boy, for example, is more highly 
motivated when a whole box of candy is the prize than when a 
single bonbon is offered. A domestic servant or day laborer, as a 
rule, will work more energetically for large wages than for small. 
A teacher, doctor, or lawyer tends to react more vigorously to the 

WARD, WITH CHICKS. (After Grind- 



big salary or fee than to the small one. Of course, many factors 
other than the quantity of reward come into the picture of human 
motivation. In man, with his highly socialized drives, "unselfish" 
or "altruistic" behavior appears with little or no reward. Such be- 
havior, on the surface of it, seems to contradict the principle stated 




6 grain reward 
1 grain reward 






Ordinates give the average score for the group; abscissae, trials. Solid line, curve of 
learning when a reward of six grains of boiled rice was offered; dash line, the same with a 
reward of one grain of rice. 

above unless one comprehends the whole picture as one of oppos- 
ing motivational forces. 

Kind or Quality of Reward, In human affairs the quality of 
reward is a factor of the most vital concern, and one which con- 
stantly affects the activity level. With animals, too, behavioral re- 
search reveals the relative effectiveness of different kinds of reward. 
The work of Ligon with hunger, social, and acoustic motivation, 
described on pp. 20-21, brings out the fact that quality of reward is a 
most important motivational factor. The experiment of Elliott with 
rewards of bran mash and sunflower seed, discussed on pp. 98-100, is 


a further illustration of the same principle. The writer's food- 
preference studies demonstrate clearly the dependence of behavior 
upon kind of food (pp. 109-113). But perhaps the classical experi- 
ment upon the point is Simmons's study of maze learning under 
different motivating conditions. 

Simmons's general method was to train equivalent groups of rats 
to run the maze, using a different motivation for each group. The 
incentives used were: reward of bread and milk; reward of sun- 
flower seeds; escape from the maze; return to the home cage; re- 
ceptive female for male rats; litter for mother rats. The ranking of 
the various rewards is based upon the number of trials necessary 
to learn the maze when each one was offered. Other criteria, such 
as the number of errors and total time, were also used by Simmons. 
Bread and milk was taken as a standard of comparison with the 
other incentives, their efficacy being expressed as ratios of the bread- 
and-milk scores of learning. The following figures give the rank 
order of the incentives: 

Female In heat for male rats 0.55 

Bread and milk plus return home -59 

Litter for mother rats 0.74 

Bread and milk i ,00 

Sunflower seeds 2. .04 

Return home 6 .93 

Escape from maze 7.53 

The above results, to be sure, are valid only for the particular de- 
gree of hunger employed in this experiment. None the less there is 
not the slightest doubt that the rate of learning varies with the 
\ind of the motivating conditions. 

Further, the variability of individual learning scores within a 
group also depends upon the kind of reward offered. That is, the 
less effective the motivation as shown by the learning curves, the 
more variable are the separate scores within the group and the less 
consistent the performance of a given individual from trial to trial 

Introduction of Reward (Latent Learning), If a man 
wanders aimlessly about the streets of a strange city, he learns to 
recognize certain landmarks. Although going nowhere in particu- 
lar, he nevertheless becomes acquainted with the principal streets, 
buildings, and places of interest. Similarly if an animal is placed in 



a maze which contains no reward, he explores in response to the 
novelty of the situation, eventually becoming habituated to the path- 
ways. If, after such habituation, a reward is suddenly introduced at 
any given point in the maze, the animal quickly learns to go to 
the place where the reward is found. His previous exploration be- 
comes of service to him in reaching the goal, and he arrives there 
more quickly than if he had not explored. The case is similar to 
that of the aforementioned man setting out to find a particular 
building after having become thoroughly acquainted with the gen- 

*'"' Group 8 
**''*" "Group !J 
X "Group III 



The solid line shows the normal learning curve with reward throughout. The two broken 
lines show curves of learning with the reward introduced on the days indicated by X. 

eral locality. Exploration is of genuine service when a need arises. 

In this connection, Blodgett experimented with groups of rats 
which he repeatedly placed in a maze containing no reward. When, 
after several days, a reward was suddenly introduced, the learning 
curves showed mat the rats found the shortest pathway to the goal 
with remarkable celerity. This, Blodgett explains, was due to "latent" 
learning during the days of exploring with no reward. 

The results of the study are shown graphically in Fig. 63. Group 
I (solid line) is composed of thirty-six rats which ran the maze 
once per day for seven days, at the end of each run being allowed 
to eat for three minutes in the goal-box. Group II (dash line) is 


composed of an equal number of rats, litter mates, which explored 
the same maze for six days with no reward., but on the seventh and 
two following days received a reward* Apart from the reward they 
were treated in every respect like the animals of Group I. Group III 
(dot-dash line) is composed of twenty-five rats which commenced 
the experiment in the same manner as the other groups; a daily re- 
ward was introduced on the third day instead of the seventh. 
Groups II and III, therefore, differ only in the time at which the 
reward was introduced. The solid line shows the normal learning 
curve with reward throughout the experimental period. The two 
broken lines show curves of learning with the reward introduced 
on the days indicated by X. 

Note that with Groups II and III the introduction of a reward is 
followed by an abrupt drop in the number of errors. The curves 
fall almost immediately to the level of the curve for Group I This 
evident facilitation in learning is dependent upon previous explora- 
tion of the maze and habituation to it. 

There is a slight and gradual drop in the curves of Groups II and 
III prior to the introduction of rewards which indicates the pres- 
ence of some motivation driving the animals to the goal-box quite 
apart from that furnished by the food reward. Escape from the 
maze always at the goal-box, or some other similarly weak motiva- 
tion, was probably effective in producing this amount of learning. 
Had the technique been such that the rats were removed always 
from a different place in the maze, it is not conceivable that they 
would have learned to go to the empty goal-box.* 

Removal of Reward and the Curve of "Unlearning." 
What happens when the reward is suddenly removed after com- 
plete learning? An answer to this question is found in an illumi- 
nating study by Sharp in which rats were given one trial per day 
on a maze until they had thoroughly learned it. Then conditions 
were changed. One group began running the maze without any 
reward; the other group continued to run with the accustomed food 
incentive. The results were striking. 

With the rats from whom the incentive was withheld both the 
number of errors and the running-time increased; also greater 
variability from trial to trial appeared. The learning curve appar- 

* In this connection see point number three made by Szymanski, p. 170, 



ently reversed Its direction and became what might be called a 
graph of "unlearning." The disintegration of the habit continued 
until a "breakdown" criterion was met. It was assumed arbitrarily 
that a habit had been broken down when 65 per cent of the animals 
gave a running-time equal to the average of the times for the first 
two trials during the original period of learning. The "unlearning" 
curve of errors is shown in Fig. 64. 

.._._ Food incentive 

- No Food Incentive 

10 15 



Removal of the reward when the maze had been completely learned made the curve of 
learning run backward (upper curve), A control group with continued reward showed no 
such effect (lower curve). 

Sharp found, too, that the amount of disintegration after the 
reward had been removed varied with the number of trials given 
per day. When the number of unrewarded runs per working period 
was increased there was a very marked disintegration of the habit. 
The frequency of errors increased progressively from trial to trial, 
and the variability increased. 

This response to removal of reward can be explained as follows. 
Learning of the maze was incidental to the food-seeking purpose. 
The process of learning established neural organization which regu- 
lated the hungry rats' behavior from start to the food goal. When 
the food goal was removed, however, the maze gradually lost its 
significance as a symbol of food-finding. In other words, the in- 


3 OI 

tegrated behavior pattern from the start to goal achievement broke 
up. Relearning of the maze would doubtless have taken place much 
more quickly than did the original learning, if the food had been 
replaced and offered consistently as a reward. 

A habit depends for its continuance not so much upon the ac- 
quired latent neural organization as it does upon the constant and 
persistent motivation which makes the individual move along a 
given learned course of action. The motive utilizes whatever neural 
organization is serviceable in the attaining of its goal. The best way 
to break a habit, therefore, is to change the motivation which deter- 
mines it. Invariably an attack upon the basic motivation is the 
psychologically correct procedure, whenever the control of behavior 
is in question. 

Symbolic Reward. A symbol is a sign or an object which 
stands for something else. A red traffic lamp symbolizes danger; 
the stars and stripes symbolize our country; a wooden hand with 
pointing finger symbolizes the direction of a path; a dinner bell 
symbolizes the forthcoming meal. 

In an investigation upon albino rats Williams established a sym- 
bolic relationship in which white stood for food. She accomplished 
this by the ordinary process of conditioning. She trained three 
groups, of twenty-five animals each, to make a black-white dis- 
crimination. The white compartment was sometimes on the right 
and sometimes on the left side of the discrimination apparatus. 
When the rats went to the white side they received food; the white 
compartment thus became a symbol for food, a "conditioned stimu- 
lus." What is the efficacy of such a "conditioned stimulus" when 
employed as a reward? Will rats learn to run the maze when re- 
warded only by a symbol of food? 

In seeking an answer to this question, Williams gave the animals 
one trial daily in the maze with different conditions of reward. 
Group III, used as a control group, was given food regularly in the 
goal-box; they learned the maze normally. The two other groups 
(Groups I and II) commenced the experiment with no reward, 
running the maze to an empty and unfamiliar goal-box. After thirty 
seconds in the goal-box they were removed to their cages. A moder- 
ate degree of learning was shown by these two non-reward groups, 
indicating that some incentive did exist. This probably consisted in 



the removal of the animal from the maze always at the place of the 

On the ninth and following days the animals of Group I were 
treated differently. They were lifted immediately from the goal-box 
to the empty black-white discrimination apparatus. They had, of 
course, been previously conditioned to the white side of the box as 
a symbol of food, but this time they received nothing. 

Symbolic Reward 
No Reward 
Food Reward 


The solid line shows the error curve for a group of rats which ran the maze until the 
ninth day with no reward except removal from the maze at the goal-box. On the ninth and 
following days the animals of this group were lifted into a discrimination box in which 
they had previously been trained to react to white as a signal for food. With symbolic 
reward the error curve dropped quickly despite the fact that no food was obtained. After 
day 13 this purely symbolic reward lost its effectiveness, as shown by the gradual rise 
in the error curve. 

Figure 65 shows the abrupt drop that appeared in the error curve 
for Group I immediately after the introduction of the symbolic re- 
ward. Their errors fell to the level for the group receiving an actual 
reward (Group III). This learning effect, however, was only tran- 
sient (pp. 303-304). With repeated trials the frequency of errors in- 
creased; the performance disintegrated until finally it again reached 
the level of Group II which throughout had received no reward. 

The symbolic reward, therefore, was at first effective but it lost 
its efficacy with repetition. Along with the motivational decrement 


the behavior of the animals distinctly indicated that they were ceas- 
ing to react to the white compartment as a symbol of food. The 
phenomenon suggests the extinction of a conditioned reflex as de- 
scribed by Pavlov. 

Williams concludes that: (i) the "conditioned stimulus" has, for 
a time, a reward value equal to that of the unconditioned stimulus; 
(2) it soon loses this value if not reinforced by the unconditioned 
stimulus; (3) the loss of reward value is concomitant with the loss 
of its distinctive character as a "conditioned stimulus." 

One other fact is of interest. Throughout the entire experiment 
all the groups received daily trials in the discrimination apparatus 
two or more hours after running the maze, and in these trials food 
was given regularly on the white side. The experimental group 
(Group I) continued to react to the white compartment as a symbol 
of food without any disturbance of the habit. In other words. Group 
I learned to differentiate between the symbolic significance of the 
discrimination box when presented by itself and that when the 
same box was presented as a part of the maze situation. 

Inadequate Reward (Transient Learning), In one of 
Grindley's experiments chicks were placed at the end of a narrow 
runway (8 inches wide by 4 feet long) at the other end of which 
were grains of rice. With one group of chicks a piece of plate glass 
was placed a few inches in front of the food so that the chicks 
could see but not reach it. With another group the glass was not 
used, and the chicks could reach and eat the grains. Thus one group 
was motivated by the sight of a reward and the other by actual 
attainment of it. 

The chicks of both groups were tested in pairs, and the time was 
measured between the release of a pair and the instant when the 
slower of the two chicks reached a fixed point a few inches in 
front of the food. The speed scores are based upon this time meas- 
urement. Each pair of chicks was given twelve trials in rapid suc- 
cession. The result for the two groups is as one might predict. The 
chicks motivated by an actual reward showed consistently rapid 
gains in speed* The other group, which was motivated only by the 
sight of rice grains, and received no genuine reward, exhibited 
quite different behavior. For the first four or five runs they showed 
an increase in speed followed by a gradual decline. See Fig. 66, 


Grindley believes that the sight of a food reward induces learn- 
ing, even when the consummatory response of eating it is impos- 
sible. But this inadequate reward loses its motivating effectiveness 
when repeated trials fail to bring the animal to the visible goal 
This loss of effectiveness in a given motivation recalls Ligon's find- 
ings with the use of a continuously sounding electric buzzer as an 
incentive. The acoustic stimulation at first motivated maze learning 
in rats, but upon repetition it became somewhat less effective (pp. 



Grain seen 

no reward 


I 20 



Ordinates give the average speed score; abscissae, successive trials. Upper curve, actual 
food reward; lower curve, grain seen but the chicks were not allowed to eat it. 

Grindley's conception of transient learning and Blodgett's con- 
ception of latent learning are in some respects related. By "tran- 
sient" learning Grindley refers to temporary learning which grad- 
ually disappears after the goal is found to be unattainable. By 
'latent" learning Blodgett means learning which has actually taken 
place but which manifests itself in activity only when adequate 
motivation is furnished to call forth the learned reactions. It is in- 
teresting that the two experiments were published independently 
during the same year, since both show the fundamental importance 
of continuous motivation if learning is to go on to completion. 



Delay of Reward. What happens when the reward is de- 
layed instead of appearing immediately after the discrimination or 
the behavior pattern to be learned ? 

Hamilton studied the effect of delayed reward, using both the 
obstruction and the learning methods. With the obstruction method, 
rats were held in a delay compartment for varying intervals of 

T C 
2 26 

4 24 
6 22 
8 20 
10 18 
12 16' 
14 14 
16 12 
18 10 
20 8 
22 6 
24 4 
26 2 

1 No. of Crossings 
-No. of Trials 

15" 30" 

l f 

3 f 


FIG. 67. EFFECT OF DELAYED REWARD. (After Hamilton.) 

Ordinates give number of trials (T) needed to learn the maze and also number of cross- 
ings (C) of the electrical obstruction per test period. Abscissae, time of enforced delay. 
Solid line, average number of crossings in obstruction apparatus with the graduated delays 
of reward. Dash line, number of trials required to learn the maze with the delay periods 

time o second (*>., no delay), 15 seconds, 30 seconds, i minute, 3 
minutes after they had crossed the electric grill and before access to 
the food was permitted. With the learning method, rats ran the 
maze toward the goal, but were detained in a delay box, for the 
same series of time intervals, before access to food was given them. 
With both methods, delaying the reward reduced the effectiveness 
of the motivation, as the graphs in Fig. 67 demonstrate. These 
curves show that the reward that was immediately given was far 
more effective than any that were delayed. 


The above result is somewhat different from an earlier one re- 
ported by John B. Watson. Using a problem box in which the rat 
had to dig through sawdust to reach the food, Watson ran two 
groups of rats under different conditions. One group was fed im- 
mediately upon reaching the goal-box; the other was forced to 
delay for thirty seconds. Watson reports that the delay of thirty 
seconds after solving the problem did not retard the learning proc- 
ess. He states, however, that during the enforced waiting the ani- 
mals were working vigorously to reach the food; they were con- 
stantly active and frantic to get to it. On the basis of this statement 
it is fair to assume that during the period of delay the rats were 
constantly in sight or smell of the food, that they were persistently 
oriented toward the goal and vigorously active to reach it. The 
enforced waiting presumably did not disturb this goal orientation. 
It appears to have been, from the rats* point of view, an integral 
portion of the time consumed in a continuous drive to the goal. In 
Hamilton's experiment the delay was more artificial and disorient- 
ing to the animals. These two experiments are not contradictory, 
because the conditions of enforced waiting were so completely dif- 

A recent and carefully planned study of delayed reward has been 
made by Wolfe at the University of Illinois. Working with rats 
and employing a discrimination technique, he found that as a 
reward is delayed its effectiveness as a learning-producing agency 
decreases with extreme rapidity. According to Wolfe, the greater 
part of this effectiveness is lost with a delay of less than one min- 
ute, and not until the delay has reached twenty minutes does the 
effectiveness of reward become approximately zero. 


Is reward more effective than punishment as a means of training 
the animal and the child? The question is a moot one because 
many who discuss it have failed to make an adequate analysis of 
the problem. To aid in removing the difficulties some of the ex- 
perimental evidence which bears upon the question will be con- 

Pain Avoidance and Hunger. In an experiment to determine 
the relative effectiveness of reward and punishment as incentives 



for learning, Hoge and Stocking made use of the visual brightness 
discrimination problem with Yerkes's technique (pp. 281-282). White 
rats were trained to make a choice which was contrary to their 
innate preference for light or dark. Two animals were punished 
with electric shock for wrong choices; two others were rewarded 
with milk-soaked bread for right choices. With a third pair of rats 
both punishment and reward were used. 

The combination of punishment and reward was found to be 
more effective than either incentive by itself for the learning of a 
visual discrimination in the rat. Of the two incentives when used 
separately, punishment proved more effective than reward in speed- 
ing up the time of learning. 

The above conclusion that a combination of reward and pun- 
ishment is more effective than either alone falls directly in line 
with the findings of many other experimenters who have studied 
combined motivating factors. Because of this agreement it can be 
accepted despite the small number of subjects. But the generaliza- 
tion that punishment is more effective than reward obviously needs 
some qualification; the relative strength of these two factors has 
to be taken into account. Realizing die difficulty, .Dodson wrote: 
"The experiment on the relative value of punishment and reward 
as motives shows almost nothing of the relative value of these two 
motives. The strength of the electric shock used may have been the 
most unfavorable to the learning process while the degree of hun- 
ger was the most favorable, or the strength of shock may have been 
the most favorable while the degree of hunger was the most un- 

To avoid this difficulty, Dodson repeated the Hoge-Stocking ex- 
periment, working with various strengths of electric shock and 
several degrees of hunger. He employed in his study four strengths 
of shock (measured in Martin units) and four degrees of hunger 
(measured in hours of food deprivation). A separate group of ten 
rats learned to make a visual brightness discrimination with each 
of the intensities of shock and each of the degrees of hunger. The 
different incentives were used alone, not in combinations. Thus 
there were eight groups of ten rats each, eighty subjects in all. In 
the punishment series the rat was given a shock if he entered the 
darker compartment, whereas the lighter one offered him an escape 



from the apparatus. In the reward series the subject was served 
toasted corn flakes soaked in cream just outside the lighter com- 
partment; no escape was permitted through the darker chamber. 



Martin Units 





(After Dodson*) 

Ordinates give number of trials needed to meet the criterion o learning. Abscissae are: 
(i) Martin units to measure strength of shock; (2) hours of food deprivation to measure 
strength of hunger. Upper curve, hunger motivation; lower, pain avoidance. 

The graphical representations in Fig, 68 contrast the effects of 
the two forms of motivation hunger and painful electric shock. 
The hunger curve (upper) shows the speed of learning with food 
deprivations of 24, 31, 41, and 48 hours. There is an increase in the 
speed of habit formation as food deprivation increases, up to 41 hours, 
but a sudden decrease between 41 and 48 hours. With deprivation 
periods above 48 hours the rats appeared not to be htingry; they 


neither rushed to get food nor did they eat it when they encountered 
it. They assumed a hump-like posture similar to that of sick or 
starving animals. This behavior is explained by the fact, stated ear- 
lier, that extreme hunger weakens the animal and markedly lowers 
its activity level (pp. 117-119), 

The shock curve (lower) gives an optimum at 75 Martin units 
despite the fact that a current of 150 units is far below the point of 
injury to the subject. Animals trained with 75 units approached 
the grill very cautiously, whereas those trained with stronger shocks 
rushed headlong into one of the boxes, seemingly trying to escape 
from the situation by running rapidly over the grill, fudging from 
the rats* behavior, it is clear that the greater length of time required 
to perfect the discrimination habit with shocks stronger than the 
optimum was due to an emotional disturbance produced by the 
very painful shocks. 

Figure 68 demonstrates strikingly the existence of optimal inten- 
sities for both types of motivation. Further experiments are now 
needed to determine the exact location of these optima and the 
various conditions affecting them. One other point is apparent from 
the graphs. All degrees of shock brought quicker learning than any 
degree of hunger. Hence, under the conditions of the experiment it 
would be correct to say that pain avoidance was relatively more 
effective than hunger motivation in producing learned behavior. 
This confirms the above-mentioned result of Hoge and Stocking 
that punishment motivates the animal more effectively than reward, 
but it goes a step further in comparing quantitative differences in 
these motivations. 

Despite the careful control of intensity in Dodson's experiment 
the whole problem appears to be misconceived. "Punishment" and 
"reward" are interpretations, practically Important but not psycho- 
logically fundamental. In the above experiments it is clear that 
two basic types of motivation were contrasted: (i) peripheral pain 
avoidance, and (2) hunger. Both types of motivation have essen- 
tially the same general pattern: persistent painful stimulation, either 
from the grill or the contracting stomach, with resultant behavior 
which sooner or later removes the source of such stimulation. What 
Dodson has really done is to contrast motivations resting upon two 


types of painful stimulation, rather than reward and punishment 
as such. He found that peripheral pain stimulation, which ordi- 
narily threatens damage to the tissues, was more potent than hunger. 

Punishment and Reward in a Social Setting- The concep- 
tions of "reward" and "punishment" are interpretations based upon 
positive and negative behavior, or upon pleasant and unpleasant 
feelings. Only those incentives which induce unpleasant feeling are 
potential punishments, and only those which are satisfying can 
serve as rewards; but in the human realm the subject must interpret 
these presentations as punishments and rewards for them to func- 
tion as such. This truth becomes clearer as soon as the problem is 
carried over into the field of socialized behavior. The gold star 
placed after the name of a pupil, the silver cup given to the win- 
ning team, the fool's cap grudgingly accepted by the dullard, the 
expressed approval or disapproval of one's superiors these symbols 
and situations constitute genuine rewards and punishments. As 
such they derive their ef&cacy from an effect upon self-esteem rather 
than from an effect upon the tissues. 

The author's view of reward and punishment agrees with that 
stated by Hamilton: "Whether an incentive stimulus is in the na- 
ture of a punishment or of a reward depends not upon the physical 
stimulus itself, but upon the conditions under which it is given, and 
so might be said to be an interpretation on the part of the subject, 
a subjective thing. It is readily conceivable that under certain condi- 
tions an electric shock might be considered as a reward, and that 
food might become punishment." 

In a well-devised experiment Hamilton planned conditions such 
that the sound of a bell would serve to one group as reward and 
to another as punishment. This plan assured that both kinds of 
incentive would have the same basis in sensation. The experimental 
task required an estimation of visual extent. The subject was seated 
before a modified Galton bar, the usual form of which is pictured 
in Fig. 69. To the left of the central hair line was measured off on 
the bar a standard length of 120 mm.; on the right a variable extent 
of the bar was visible. At the start of each trial the movable shield 
was placed at the center line and the subject was instructed to move 
it outward until the length on the right was twice that of the stand- 


aid length on the left. When satisfied with his adjustment the sub- 
ject pressed a button to give a signal to the experimenter that the 
task k had been completed. 

There were sixty subjects. On the first day each individual made 
fifty adjustments of the shield. From measurements based upon 
these results the average error was computed for each person. On 
the second experimental day the first five trials were made under 
the same conditions as before; then the subjects were divided into 
six groups of ten each and given different kinds of treatment as 
follows : 


(A modified form of this apparatus was used by Hamilton.} 

The subject, seated In front of the apparatus, grasps the adjusting rod, and by rotating it 
causes the black shield on the right to move until the extent of the visible bar on the right 
of the hair line appears equal to that on the left, or twice that on the left. 

1. A control group completed the second day with no special 
motivation. In other words, the method used with this group on 
the first and second days was identical. 

2. The members of a punishment group were told that a bell 
would ring when they pressed the button at the end of each trial, 
if the length they estimated was wrong. 

3. Conversely, the members of a reward group were told that a 
bell would ring when they pressed the button, if they had adjusted 
the length correctly. 

4. A guess-with'punishment group was treated the same as the 
punishment group except that in every case the individual subject 
was required to guess the direction of his error. He was not told 
whether this guess was right or wrong. 

5. In a told-with-punuhment group the individuals were treated 



exactly as in the punishment group, except that every subject was 
told the direction of his error. 

6. A knowledge group heard the experimenter announce in a 
matter-of-fact voice "long," "short/' "right," No bell was used. 

The average errors computed on the first day gave a basis for 
determining whether an adjustment was "right" or "wrong." 
Hamilton regulated the apparatus in such a way that the bell would 
ring for members of the reward group whenever the error of an 
adjustment was less than the average error for the individual con- 
cerned. For members of the punishment group the bell rang when- 
ever an error was greater than an individual's average error. This 
arrangement assured an equal number of "right" and "wrong" ad- 
justments in the long run for every subject. Furthermore, on the 
second day a new average error was computed after every five 
trials; as each subject's error decreased with practice the apparatus 
was constantly adjusted to correspond to the lowered average error. 
This plan gave approximately equal numbers of rewards and pun- 
isipnents, with no possibility of changing the ratio by practice. 

How much did the average errors decrease under the different 
incentive conditions? To answer this question the measure of the 
average error for a group on the first day was taken as a base (100 
per cent) 5 and the average error for the last five trials was expressed 
as a percentage of this base. The values computed in this way 




age of 



age of 







T <T 


Toid~wi th~t}U2ii shmen t 

*) O 






Results with the control group indicate that continued estima- 
tions of visual extent in the absence of any information about the 
correctness of one's work, and in the absence, too, of all special in- 



centives in the form of rewards or punishments, will show no 
improvement. Indeed, the finding of 127 per cent of error suggests 
definitely that the subjects of the control group became increasingly 
indiff erent and careless in carrying out their work. The remaining 
five groups all exhibited marked reduction in their average errors. 
The reduction was present in each individual case as well as with 
the group as a whole. 

The results for punishment and reward groups are not reliably 
different. In regard to this Hamilton reminds us that the physical 
aspects of punishment and reward were identical the very same 
bell served for both, nor did the method of presentation vary. The 
only difference between punishment and reward, therefore, was In 
the mental attitude of the subjects toward the bell This difference, 
however, was a very genuine one. In the case of punishment, the 
subjects sometimes swore at the bell, made faces when it rang; and 
all adopted the attitude of trying to keep it from ringing. In the case 
of reward, the spontaneous behavior of the subjects when the bell 
rang was quite the opposite. They gave exclamations of delight 
upon hearing the bell, sighed, and said "What a relief," "That's 
better," etc.; and all appeared to be trying to make the bell ring as 
frequently as possible. 

It is difficult to know to what extent pleasant and unpleasant 
feelings were aroused by this type of punishment and reward. Such 
aifective processes were undoubtedly more common with the pun- 
ishment and reward groups than with the knowledge group. This 
group received the most information of all, but it was given In a 
non-emotional, matter-of-fact way. Knowledge of results alone re- 
duced the average error to 45 per cent of its measure at the begin- 
ning of the experiment. Contrastingly, punishment and reward 
combined with less Information effected much greater reductions 
in error. 

Turning now to the guess-with-punishment group we are im- 
pressed by the fact that it made the greatest reduction In average 
error of all the groups (though not a reliably greater reduction 
than that of the told-with-punishment group). The gue$s~with~ 
punishment group were more active than the others and although 
they were not Informed as to the accuracy of their guessing, their 
additional activity gave them an advantage over the told-with- 


punishment group which merely received information passively. 
These results are in line with the well-known principle that we 
learn by reacting. It would be interesting to know just how far the 
activity of guessing helped to make the guess-wit h-punishment 
group the most successful of them all It seems likely that both the 
guess-with-punishment and told-with-punishment groups were more 
constantly aware of the correctness or incorrectness of their reac- 
tions than the groups with either punishment or reward alone, and 
that this enforced emphasis upon results favored greater accuracy. 

On reviewing the conditions of the study the interesting sugges- 
tion occurs to one, that there may be a variety of facilitating factors 
in the experimental situation: an information factor, present in the 
highest degree with the knowledge group; an incentive factor, pres- 
ent in all the reward and punishment groups and perhaps to a 
much smaller extent in the knowledge group; an emotion factor, 
present in both the punishment and reward groups. There is also 
an activity factor, present to the highest degree in the gues$-with~ 
punishment group. It would be worth while to repeat this experi- 
ment varying only the physical characteristics of the reward-punish- 
ment. One might, for example, use the voice, an electric shock, a 
perfume, a fire gong, etc., as incentives. 

Among the more general conclusions of the study Hamilton 
makes the arresting statement that the special incentives yielded 
greater accuracy of visual length discrimination than had hereto- 
fore been attained in this well-known laboratory experiment. 

Concluding Statement. The difference between a "reward" 
and a "punishment" lies in the attitude of the subject. A reward is 
something desired and positively valued when received. A punish- 
ment, on the other hand, is disliked and negatively valued. A reward 
is bestowed, a punishment is inflicted, by someone or something 
within the external environment. Although either of these two 
opposed attitudes can be built up towards one and the same bit of 
experience, ordinarily stimulations and situations which normally 
induce negative reactions serve as punishments, and goal objects 
are utilized as rewards. 

The practical side of the problem of punishment and reward 
relates to the control of behavior, especially to the training of chil- 
dren. Discipline through punishment often takes the form of in- 


flicting pain; it sometimes takes the form of producing unpleasant- 
ness through reproof, or through denying some privilege or some 
desired object. Discipline through rewards also has many forms. 
The reward may be a gift of money, candy, or some pleasure- 
bringing object, or the permission to do some enjoyable act such 
as to go on a picnic; or the reward may be merely the withholding 
of punishment; further, a reward may be the giving of social 

Punishment-reward techniques have been utilized for countless 
ages, in the control of human behavior, especially to impress upon 
the youth those behavior patterns which are prescribed by custom 
and taboo. Early laws with their drastic codes presuppose that be- 
havior can be controlled through punishments and to a less extent 
through rewards and social recognitions. Regardless of one's views 
on training through punishment, the psychological fact remains 
that this form of incentive is very effective in bringing modifica- 
tions of behavior. It is not an exaggeration to say that in some form 
or other motivation through rewards and punishments touches 
every phase of human life. 

Finally, the materials presented in this chapter give rise to two 
fundamental problems for the psychologist. The first is concerned 
with the conditions which induce positive and negative behavior. 
The simple reactions of seeking and avoiding, as well as the more 
complex and persistent appetites and aversions, raise basic questions 
concerning the conditions which evoke movement either toward or 
away from an object. The second fundamental problem relates to 
the acquiring of the neural organization which predisposes an or- 
ganism to react positively or negatively. In the next chapter we 
shall see that positive and negative reactions play a leading role in 
the process of learning a role practically recognized in the appli- 
cation of rewards and punishments. 

Positive and negative behavior; appetites and aversions 

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37. HOGE, M. A., and STOCKING, R. L. A note on the relative value of punishment 

and reward as motives. /. Anim. Bekav., 1912, 2, 43-50. 

38. LEWIN, K. Op. cit., reference 7 above. 

39. WARDEN, C. J., and AYLESWORTH, M. The relative value of reward and 

punishment in the formation of a visual discrimination habit in the white rat. 
/. Comp. PsychoL, 1927, 7, 117-127. 


"Even the most trivial likes and dislikes, such as preferring roses 
to lilies, or blue to green, have their motivation." 


People commonly say that they carry on certain activities "for 
their own sake. 35 Playing baseball, fishing, painting, beating time 
to music, and countless other recreational and self-expressive activi- 
ties go along seemingly of their own accord. In daily life we fre- 
quently explain such actions by referring to pleasant and unpleasant 
feelings. "I do what pleases me, and I do it because it pleases me." 
"I go to a concert or to a movie solely to seek pleasure." "I avoid 
all unpleasant things, and I avoid them because they are unpleas- 
ant." Thus pleasant and unpleasant feelings are tacitly assumed to 
regulate and motivate action. Moreover, it is ordinarily taken for 
granted that choices are determined in some way by pleasant and 
unpleasant feeling ("pleasure and pain") so as to favor the former 
and oppose the latter. 

From the historical standpoint the doctrine of hedonism has 
played a considerable role in human thought. The hedonistic doc- 
trine in one form or another is found in the writings of Aristippus 
and Epicurus; it is developed in the writings of Hobbes, Locke, 
Hunae, Bentham, John Stuart Mill, and Spencer. Philosophers have 
distinguished between the ethical and psychological forms of this 
doctrine. The ethical form of hedonism affirms that happiness is the 
goal of all action, the summum bonum of life, and that men. should 
direct their lives so as to attain pleasure or happiness and avoid the 
opposites. Any philosophy of life, however, which affirms that men 
ought to do so and so, and which upholds standards for judging 
human conduct as right or wrong, is outside the scope of scientific 
psychology. For the psychologist the good man preaching a sermon 
in the pulpit and the bad man wallowing in the mire are equally 




important as subjects for scientific study. The scientific frame of 
mind is factual and observant rather than evaluative and apprecia- 

Psychological hedonism is a wholly different matter. This is a 
doctrine of motivation which postulates that men do, in fact, act 
so as to attain pleasure and to avoid pain. Thus Bentham wrote: 
"Nothing can act of itself as a motive but the ideas of pleasure or 
pain." And again: "A motive is substantially nothing more than 
pleasure or pain, operating in a certain manner." 

Several modern psychologists have held to the hedonistic doc- 
trine. Freud's formulation of the pleasure principle (which he later 
abandoned) is a case in point. The child, according to this prin- 
ciple, starts life with a craving for pleasure. Playing, eating, sleep- 
ing, sucking the thumb, and many other activities are carried on 
for the sake of the pleasure they yield. If the child has received 
pleasure in the past from some activity, he will seek to reproduce 
it so as to regain the same pleasure. If, for example, his mother has 
rocked him to sleep with an effect which was enjoyable to him, 
he will seek regularly to be rocked when going to sleep. Gradually, 
according to Freud, the environment curbs the child; he is forced 
to face the real world and he no longer acts merely for pleasure 

In a recent book upon the fundamentals of human motivation 
Troland devoted several chapters to psychological hedonism, work- 
ing out a rather elaborate hedonistic theory. He distinguished three 
kinds of hypotheses: (i) Hedonism of the present assumes that 
pleasantness and unpleasantness of the present moment immediately 
regulate one's actions in such a way that the pleasantness is main- 
tained and the unpleasantness is brought to an end. (2) Hedonism 
of the past expresses the view that pleasant and unpleasant experi- 
ences in the past have modified neural organization; through such 
modifications the feelings regulate present behavior. (3) Hedonism 
of the future postulates that the anticipation of future pleasantness 
and unpleasantness motivates action. Troland committed himself 
to a hedonism of the past, developing the theory at length. 

A lucid but less analytical hedonistic doctrine has been formulated 
in a brief study by Biihler. He states that certain forms of free 
activity are of themselves pleasurable. The unrestrained play of 


children brings what he calls "function pleasure.' 5 Biihler writes: 
"If a first sign, D, means displeasure and a second one, P, pleasure, 
then psychologists have generally agreed, since Aristotle and Epi- 
curus, that the general direction of human activity is, as a rule, 
from D to P. In terms of behaviorism we may say: There is a 
steering principle to be found in the field of movements we can 
observe. . . ." This steering principle is unmistakably an hedonistic 

In the present chapter our immediate aim is to assemble the facts 
of experimental psychology which have a direct bearing upon the 
doctrine of psychological hedonism. In a concluding section we 
will evaluate the hedonistic doctrine in the light of the psychologi- 
cal facts. First we will consider the work upon interests, for interest- 
ing activities are commonly said to be motivated by the pleasantness 
which they yield. 


Interests are activities which one carries on repeatedly and con- 
sistently for their own sake. Apart from the appetites, which clearly 
are determined by organic states (pp. 271-278), human beings mani- 
fest a wide variety of interests. There are interests in golfing, stamp 
collecting, professional football, amateur dramatics, singing, garden- 
ing, social service, writing poetry, contract bridge, interior decorat- 
ing, cabinet making, and so forth. Ask a man why he carries on any 
one of these activities; he will reply, "Because it is pleasing to me," 
or "Because I like it," and that is the end of the matter so far as he 
is concerned. Thus the hedonistic principle, as noted above, is 
constantly appealed to for explanation of one's activities. 

Certain it is that odors, tastes, warm and cold touches, and other 
sensory impressions induce fairly uniform reactions of liking and 
disliking quite apart from training. The child also derives pleasure 
from manipulating toys, from tones, colors, forms, moving objects, 
and from mechanical effects. Later he finds it pleasing to run about, 
to climb trees, to explore, to control the behavior of animals and 
persons, to raise plants, to build and fly kites. The world is interest- 
ing, as Woodworth expressed it, not merely because it affords us 
food and shelter, but because we contain within ourselves adapta- 
tions to many of its objective characteristics. In dealing with these 


characteristics we are aroused to interesting and satisfying activi- 
ties, even apart from the bask biological drives. 

In psychological studies it has been commonly assumed that an 
interest is a pleasing activity associated with persistent positive or 
maintaining behavior. Thus Strong writes: "An interest is accom- 
panied by pleasant feeling and by a dynamic tendency to seek the 
object or do something with it. Aversion seems to be the best an- 
tonym to interest. An aversion is accompanied by unpleasant feeling 
and a tendency to escape from the object. The verbs like' and Mis- 
like' express such meanings and have been used in securing our 
data, not 'interest' and "aversion. 5 Interest in the movies means that 
one enjoys attending them and does so. Aversion to calculus means 
that if possible one avoids the need to solve problems involving 
calculus. It is only natural, then, that a measurement of one's in- 
terests is also a measurement of what one will do, other things 
being equal. As one does not long continue to like what one can- 
not do, it is only to be expected that a measurement of one's in- 
terests is approximately a measurement of what one can do. . . ." 

In an excellent summary of all that has been done to date in the 
measurement of human interests, Fryer separates the conception 
of interest from that of motivation. Motivation, he states, is the 
energy aspect of experience and reaction; a basic motivational 
principle is that varying degrees of stimulation liberate different 
quantities of energy. Interest, on the other hand, refers to qualita- 
tive change in behavior; it is the acceptance-rejection aspect o re- 
action. Measurement of motivation and measurement of interest 
are thus separate, according to Fryer, and it is important to keep 
them apart to avoid experimental confusion. 

The distinction between the energy aspect and the acceptance- 
rejection aspect of activity is without doubt an important one. In 
this book, however, we have not limited the field of motivational 
psychology to a study of the energetics of activity. Rather, we have 
defined the problem of motivation so broadly that it includes the 
investigation of every aspect of acceptance and rejection, the total 
process of regulation and control of behavior, and not energetics 
alone. According to the author's view, the analysis of interest be- 
longs within motivational psychology rather than outside and apart 


from It. But, regardless of definition, the facts summarized by Fryer 
are of great scientific and practical importance. 

The Measurement of Interests- In the various tests for 
diagnosing human interest a common method is to have the sub- 
ject indicate whether he likes or dislikes some activity, such as 
writing poetry, speaking in public, hiking for recreation, solving 
equations in physics or chemistry, doing carpentry work, entertain- 
ing guests, setting up machinery, reading newspapers. Generally 
such tests also include a list of names of objects and persons to be 
scored in terms of liking or disliking, as: mice, parents, Marconi, 

Strong's vocational interest test presents this instruction to the 
subjects: "Indicate after each occupation listed below whether you 
would like that kind of work or not. Disregard considerations of 
salary, social standing, future advancement, etc. Consider only 
whether you would like to do what is involved in the occupation. 
. . . Work rapidly. Your first impressions are desired here. An- 
swer all the items. Many of the seemingly trivial and irrelevant 
items are very useful in diagnosing your real attitude." 

In his interest-testing blank Strong has arranged 420 items* to 
each of which the subject is required to react in terms of liking, in- 
difference or disliking. The test contains: one hundred different 
occupations, e.g., actor, college professor, dentist, poet, surgeon; 
fifty-four amusements, e.g., golf, poker, billiards, American Maga- 
zine; thirty-nine school subjects, e.g., algebra, Bible study, public 
speaking, zoology; eighty-two activity items, e.g., repairing a clock, 
handling horses, calling friends by nicknames, saving money; sixty- 
three peculiarities of people, e.g., progressive people, emotional 
people, cripples, bolshevists; forty-two miscellaneous items; forty 
estimates of present abilities and characteristics, e.g., "usually start 
activities of my group," "am quite sure of myself," "discuss my 
ideals with others." (The self-estimates are scored in terms of "yes," 
"?" and "no." The subjects are instructed to: "Indicate below what 
kind of a person you are right now and what you have done, etc.") 

The test was given to 2340 men between the ages of twenty and 
sixty, distributed among eight occupations: engineers, lawyers, in- 

The number of Items varied with the test revision. 



surance men, ministers, physicians, school men, writers, and 
Y.M.C.A. secretaries. Differences among these occupational groups 
were found to be greater than differences dependent upon age 
(Fig. 70). A characteristic set of interests was revealed for each oc- 
cupational group, and these interests did not wax or wane very 
much with age. Because of this the interest analysis technique is of 
practical importance in the diagnosis of occupational bent and in 
vocational guidance. 

Interest and Capacity. Every parent recognizes that indi- 
vidual differences in interests are revealed in the behavior of chil- 
dren at a very early age. 

Johnny wants a pair of skates, Susy wants a dolly; 
Nellie wants a story book, she thinks dolls are folly. 

How do these early acceptances and rejections arise? 

It is evident that there are two factors which play a dominant 
role in directing the channels of interest: innate capacity, on the 
one hand; skills acquired through learning, on the other. Consider, 
for example, a girl with a sensitive musical ear which enables her 
to discriminate pitches accurately, and to recognize nuances of loud- 
ness and timbre. She can learn melodies readily and sing them Qn 
the key; she has a keen sense of rhythm as shown by her playing 
and her dancing; she can learn to read music easily and accurately. 
All these capacities, whether native or acquired, make musical per- 
formance as easy and natural to her as rolling down a hill. She 
readily excels other children in musical performance and for this 
wins the praise of her parents and teachers. This praise, in turn, 
acts as a spur to still further achievement. Undoubtedly her native 
capacity has much to do with the pleasantness which she derives 
from such unrestrained activity. Yet it must be admitted that her 
thorough musical education greatly enhances the pleasantness gained 
from her chosen art. Every interest, whether an art, a sport, a hobby, 
or something else, is dependent upon the same two important factors 
for its existence. 

The Shifting of Interests, Observations made by Lehman 
and Witty upon American boys and girls indicate that there are 
many shifts of vocational interest at the time of adolescence. For 
example, the desire to be a movie actor or actress usually declines 


^^^ -.' National Geographic Magazine 

/Nights Spent at Home vs. 
(Away from Home 

1 Art Galleries 

Contributing to Charities 
Driving an Auto 

Musical Comedy 
Detective Stories 


Making a Speech 

* Secretary of a Society 

Acting as Yei! -leader 







The curves are based upon a study of the interests of 2,340 men. The attitude index on 
the vertical at the left presents numerical differences between the percentage of a group 
liking and the percentage disliking the various items in question. Indifference, when ex- 
pressed, is ignored in computing the attitude index. For example, at age twenty-five, 88 
per cent like and i per cent dislike driving an auto; the attitude index in this case is 86 
per cent. At age twenty-five, 3 per cent like and 84 per cent dislike the occupation of under- 
taker; the attitude index is 81 per cent. The solid lines represent interests which decrease 
with age or remain about constant; the dotted lines, those which increase. 


with the onset of pubescence; interest in becoming a cowboy gen- 
erally wanes at the same period. The vocational counselor should 
keep in mind this rapid shifting of interests during adolescence. 

By contrast the interests of adults are relatively stable, but even 
here the changes of interests are more rapid between the ages of 
twenty-five and thirty-five than in succeeding decades of life. Strong 
found that about 50 per cent of the interests expressed by his sub- 
jects changed between the ages of twenty-five and thirty-five, about 
20 per cent between thirty-five and forty-five, about 30 per cent 
between forty-five and fifty-five. There was little fluctuation of in- 
terest between the ages of fifty-five and sixty-five. Figure 70 presents 
Strong's curves showing certain fluctuations in interests between the 
ages of twenty-five and fifty-five. Some of the items listed are liked 
at all ages, others are disliked at all ages. For example, the occupation 
of undertaker is generally disliked by young and old; the National 
Geographic Magazine is generally liked. On the other hand, the 
curves show many interests which increase with age (dotted lines) 
and numerous others which remain about constant or decrease 
(solid lines) . Fields of activity which demand marked physical skill 
and daring show pronounced changes in popularity with age. For 
example, the interest in such occupations as aviator and explorer de- 
clines with age, doubtless because the younger men are physically 
more fit for these vigorous activities. Older men, again, dislike items 
suggestive of change or interference with the established order. 

In general, interest in all occupations, including one's own, shows 
a decline with advancing years. Interests in activities which involve 
reading manifest an increase with age, whereas those which involve 
talking or writing decline with advancing years. It is worth noting 
that older men prefer amusements pursued alone rather than group 
activities. Also, as men grow older they become more discriminat- 
ing in their likes and dislikes for people, showing an increasing 
preference for those with traits which they regard as desirable, and 
a growing aversion for those with qualities which they consider 

There was no appreciable difference,, Strong found, in the num- 
ber of items liked or disliked at the ages of twenty-five, thirty-five, 
forty-five, and fifty-five; 



At age twenty-five, 35 per cent of all items were liked; 30 

per cent disliked. 
At age fifty-five, 34 per cent of all items were liked; 31 per 

cent disliked. 

The older men, therefore, had as many likes and dislikes as did 
the younger ones, or at least indicated as many on the test blanks. 
The older men did not develop more interests with increased age, as 
one might expect, nor were they more catholic in their interests 
than the younger men. The interests of the younger men were 
simply different from those of their elders. This means, in general, 
that the acquiring of new interests goes hand in hand with the 
abandonment of old ones. It is plain that this must of necessity be 
the case, unless one's waking hours are to become a hodgepodge of 
diversified activities shifting kaleidoscopically with increasing speed 
as age advances. 

Instead of asking why an interesting activity continues with ad- 
vancing age it might be more instructive to inquire why, in so many 
cases, it finally ceases. Why, for example, does a boy actively en- 
gaged in stamp-collecting lose interest in this hobby and stop col- 
lecting? As a man of forty he doubtless retains all the neural or- 
ganization needed for stamp-collecting, but this organization has 
become inert. There is no dynamically active determination, no 
motive to call it into function. 

A fading interest is similar to a perseverating experience (pp. 249- 
251). To illustrate the similarity, consider a man and his wife who 
have just returned home from a formal reception. They find them- 
selves discussing the gowns, the couples present, the refreshments, 
the music, and so on. Gradually, however, as days and weeks pass, 
the perseverating images die away; they fade into nothingness. This 
fading of memory pictures is inevitable because countless other ex- 
periences occur to crowd them out. The more recent, intense, vivid, 
and emotional experiences clearly have the advantage in memory. 

In the case of the fading interest the process is very much the 
same, but on a grander scale of time. The interesting activities of 
childhood, for example, are diverse and numerous. Inevitably some 
must be crowded out of behavior as an individual grows older and 
as new demands of time and consideration are made upon hinu The 
new activities make dominant claims upon the muscles and neural 


organization of an individual. Inasmuch as the organism reacts in 
an integrated, coordinated manner, one activity of necessity elimi- 
nates others. 

Another factor is satiation (pp. 248-249). There is such a thing as 
having had enough, for the time being or permanently, of a given 
activity. It is well known that the repetition of an interesting activ- 
ity sooner or later reduces the pleasantness an individual obtains 
in carrying it out. 


In respect to interests the hedonistic principle of motivation is 
uncritically assumed; it is commonly taken for granted that the 
pleasantness of an activity carries it along or somehow determines 
its continuance. There is at least one other place in contemporary 
psychology where the hedonistic principle comes into the picture^ 
and that is in connection with the law of effect. 

The Law of Effect. One of the most widely discussed princi- 
ples of human and animal learning is the law of effect. Thorndike 
expressed the law as follows: a satisfying state of affairs is one 
which the animal does nothing to avoid but rather seeks to attain 
and preserve; an annoying state of affairs is one which the animal 
endeavors to avoid or change. If the effect of a reaction is satisfy- 
ing, the reaction is stamped in, Le., learned; if the effect is annoying, 
the reaction is stamped out. Satisfying and annoying effects are thus 
vital factors in the process of habit formation. 

In discussing this principle it is important to note that a reaction 
may have any of several different effects. In the first place, if an 
organism receives a scratch, cut, burn, or other injury to the tissues 
in the course of its own activities, this is an effect of reaction. For 
example, if a man cuts himself while shaving, the cut is clearly an 
effect of the reactions of shaving. Another kind of effect is the 
relief of body need when some consummately reaction is made. 
For example, water relieves thirst and restores homeostasis a 
physiological effect with psychological implications. A third effect 
of a given reaction is success or failure relative to some definite goal. 
In the everyday life of man, success in attaining a job, making a 
sale, winning applause, completing a difficult task, brings satis- 
faction and modifies future behavior; also failure has its profound 


effects. In the laboratory the words "right" or "wrong," called out 
by the experimenter, mark success or failure in the task. In animal 
learning the attainment of a food goal and the receiving of an elec- 
tric shock are both effects of reaction which can readily be inter- 
preted in terms of success and failure. A fourth and very obvious 
sort of effect is pleasant or unpleasant feeling. For example, when 
a baby sucks his thumb the effect is obviously pleasing; if the same 
thumb is thrust into the fire, the effect is displeasing. Subsequently 
he repeats the former act and avoids the latter. A fifth effect of 
reaction is merely the positive or negative behavior induced by a 
situation considered quite apart from any pleasantness or unpleas- 
antness and apart from the other effects listed above. 

The effects mentioned overlap and are interrelated in many ways. 
In any adequate discussion of the law of effect, therefore, the first 
prerequisite is to state precisely what is meant by effect. Although 
there is no doubt that to most people Thorndike's terms "satisfac- 
tion" and "annoyance" immediately suggest felt pleasantness and 
unpleasantness, Thorndike himself has recently denied that satisfy- 
ingness and annoyingness are synonyms for sensory pleasure and 
pain. He defines effect entirely in terms of positive and negative 

The pleasure-pain theory of learning found in the writings of 
Spencer, Bain, Baldwin, and others, is essentially the same as Thorn- 
dike's much-discussed law of effect. But according to the view of 
these writers, pleasure and pain are the effects of reaction which 
produce learning. It is clear, however, that animals cannot describe 
their pleasant and unpleasant feelings. Consequently, in the experi- 
ments upon animal learnings at least, Thorndike's behavioral 
criterion of satisfaction and annoyance must be used. Satisfaction is 
positive, consummatory behavior; and annoyance is negative, avoid- 
ing behavior. 

Ample evidence that both positive and negative behavior lead to 
learning has been presented in the section upon rewards (pp. 
290-306) and in that upon punishments (pp. 278-290). The experi- 
ments there recounted confirm the common beliefs of the parent, 
the educator, the animal trainer, all based on their various practical 

Additional evidence bearing directly upon the law of effect is 


found in experiments in which animals are given a free choice 
between several possible reactions. Such experiments show how one 
response comes to dominate another according to their respective 
effects upon the subject. The work of the Chinese psychologist Kuo, 
upon the elimination of unsuccessful acts, is presented here to il- 
lustrate how relative effects of reaction enter into learning. 

Kuo gave rats a choice among four entrances within his apparatus. 
One entrance led directly to the food-box by a short path. Another 
led to the goal by a longer, indirect path. A third led to a compart- 
ment in which the rat, if he entered it, was confined for twenty 
seconds. When released he could go to food either through the 
short or the long path. The fourth opened into a compartment in 
which the rat was given an electric shock, after which he could 
approach food via either the short or the long path. 

Kuo assumed that the animals would eliminate first the ii-adap- 
tive reactions and that the order of elimination would vary with 
the degree of ill-adaptiveness. Accordingly, the expected order of 
elimination would be: first, painful shock; second, confinement; 
third, long path. Kuo assumed also that in some cases the excessive 
movements of approaching through the long path might not be 
eliminated at all What did he find? 

After experimenting with a group of thirteen black-and-white 
rats Kuo discovered that his predictions were all confirmed. The 
shock compartment was avoided sooner than any of the other com- 
partments; the confinement compartment, on the whole, was elimi- 
nated sooner than the long-path compartment; and lastly all but 
two of the thirteen rats finally chose the shorter path, in many cases 
the shift from long to short pathway coming suddenly, despite the 
fact that there had been a greater frequency of runs down the long 
path prior to the shift. 

In this experiment the ultimate goal was food, and the constant 
motivation, hunger. On the road to the goal different reactions 
had various effects; and these reactions, as predicted, were elimi- 
nated in proportion to the undesirability and the severity of their 


Another experiment which illustrates the predominance of one 
reaction over another according to its effect is the writer's work 
upon food preferences (pp. 109-113). Several food substances were 



found to arrange themselves for each rat in a given sequence, most 
clearly expressed thus : milk > sugar > wheat > butterf at > flour. 

When a pair of foods, such as sugar and wheat, was presented to 
the animal repeatedly the preferred food (in this case sugar) was 
selected with greater and greater frequency as the trials continued. 
Gradual changes in preferential behavior favoring the more pre- 
ferred of the two foods appeared so regularly and consistently that 
we designated them "preferential trends." The animal learned, as 
it were, more and more to select the preferred food. 

A hint that similar trends occur when a choice is given between 
two basic drives is found in the work of another experimenter. Us- 
ing the method of choice (pp. 90-91), Tsai found that after a twenty- 
four-hour period of food deprivation male rats selected food in 
preference to receptive females in about 77 per cent of the trials. 
In his conclusions he stated that the number of food choices in- 
creased slightly with repetition of the choice-situation, which fact 
he regarded as additional evidence for the preference of food to 
sexual satisfaction under his conditions. In other words, the prepo- 
tent reaction dominated with increasing frequency when the choice- 
situation was repeated. 

These experiments of Kuo, Young, and Tsai agree in one respect 
which can be stated as a general principle. When an organism is 
given a free choice between two courses of behavior which differ 
in their degree of satisfyingness or annoyance, upon repetition the 
more highly satisfying (or the less annoying) dominates behavior 
with increasing frequency. The gradual trend in preferential be- 
havior can be referred to the efect of reaction. The formulation of 
the law of effect should go further; it should take account of the 
degree of satisfaction and annoyance. Possibly the Yerkes-Dodson 
law (pp. 280-287) can be interpreted in this light as a quantitative, 
though partial, law of effect. 

Pleasant and Unpleasant Effects. As we have just seen, 
Thorndike's law of effect, stated in terms of positive and negative 
behavior, has been demonstrated as a valid principle of animal learn- 
ing. The older pleasure-pain theory of learning was stated in terms 
of human feeling, and was uncritically assumed to apply in about 
the same form to animal behavior. Today psychologists have become 
skeptical of the kind of psychology which speculatively assigns con- 



scions experiences to animals and which explains their behavior by 
an analogy to human consciousness. When we turn to the human 
individual, however, direct reports of pleasantness and unpleasant- 
ness are obtainable in addition to objective observations upon posi- 
tive and negative reactions. 

In the field of human psychology a considerable number of ex- 
periments have been made upon pleasant and unpleasant feeling 
in relation to learning, retention, recall, and other aspects of memory. 
A good deal of this work, unfortunately, rests upon a faulty formu- 
lation of the affective problem. A few of the sources of error com- 
monly met in this work will be noted in passing. 

If a subject reacts positively, this does not necessarily mean that 
pleasant feeling was experienced; and the same is true for a nega- 
tive reaction and unpleasantness. There is a difference, which is 
frequently and mistakenly ignored, between "accepting" and "ac- 
cepting with pleasure." 

Again, if a subject reports that a word is pleasant or that a given 
past experience was unpleasant, he may be stating the purely cogni- 
tive aspect of experience with little or no reference to feeling. For 
example, when one remarks, "This is a pleasant day," one does 
not necessarily imply that pleasant feeling is now being experienced. 
Possibly during the course of the day the brightness and warmth, 
the highly saturated blues and greens of nature, together with the 
sense of rejuvenation and well-being elicited thereby, did induce 
pleasant feelings on repeated occasions; but the bare statement, 
"This is a pleasant day," does not report or describe existing affec- 
tive experience. Failure to draw this distinction between meaning 
and affective experience leads to some of the well-known contra- 
dictions within affective psychology. 

Another source of error lies in the fact that the precise relation- 
ship between a particular felt experience and some important exist- 
ing condition cannot always be clearly defined in the experiment. 
For example, seeing a bottle of perfume may lead to the response 
of grasping and smelling, with a distinctly pleasing effect. If the 
same response occurred during an unpleasant mood, or along with 
a pleasing memory or thought, the affective experience would be 
so complicated by these extraneous conditions that any simple con- 
nection of feeling with reaction would be rendered impossible. An 
experimenter must define precisely what felt experience is being 
studied, delimit its conditions rigidly, determine its exact relation to 


the bit of behavior under consideration or to the neural organiza- 
tion of the subject. This, of course, is easier said than done. 

Despite the above difficulties and sources of error, the law of ef- 
fect, from the standpoint of individual experience, can be validly 

stated in this way: if the conscious effect of a given reaction is 
pleasing to the individual, the reaction on the whole is likely to 
be repeated in a similar situation; if the effect is displeasing, the 
reaction is less likely to be repeated. 

The Experiences of Success and Failure, In the present 
connection we should consider some of the conditions determining 
a sense of succeeding or failing in one's task. In an interesting in- 
vestigation, Hoppe has shown that the experiences of success and 
failure are relative to the "level of aspiration" of the subject. Thus, 
if Paderewski played a few wrong notes during a concert, he would 
be much disturbed by his "failure," whereas an ordinary pianist 
would be greatly elated by his "success" could he play nearly as 
well One's goal or level of aspiration, as just stated, is what counts 
in estimating success and failure. 

The young child has no experience of failure when he is unable 
to accomplish what an older child or an adult can do with ease. 
Again, if the task is much too easy, its accomplishment does not 
bring the sense of being successful. Success or failure is rektive 
to ability. If the task to which a child aspires is within the zone of 
his ability, its performance brings the experience of success. Some- 
times parents and teachers make demands upon a child which 
raise his level of aspiration distinctly above that warranted by his 
ability. In this case a feeling of inferiority develops, to the detri- 
ment of the child's general conduct and his achievement. In other 
words, what constitutes success or failure is not merely the per- 
formance or non-performance of a given task, but rather achieve- 
ment relative to the subject's real or imaginary goal 

Acquiring Likes and Dislikes. The law of effect, whether 
stated in objective terms or in terms of individual feeling, implies 
that an organism acquires organization which predisposes it toward 
some objects or situations and away from others. An illustration is 
found in the discrimination experiment. After a period of training 
on a T-maze, an animal learns to avoid punishment and to reach 


the reward. Almost any light, sound, tactual impression,, or other 
pattern of sensory stimulation, may serve as the signal for a positive 
or a negative reaction at the fork of the pathway. After the animal 
has learned to discriminate, the signal induces a response which 
originally it did not evoke; it becomes a cue to the animal to turn 
towards or away from something. This is the simplest laboratory 
illustration of building up a positive or a negative reaction. 

In human' psychology, too, it is well known that predispositions 
to like and to dislike are acquired. Moss has described an experi- 
ment with a two-year-old boy in which a dislike was built up in the 
laboratory. Billic was blindfolded and given orange juice sweetened 
with sugar. This was dropped on his tongue with a medicine drop- 
per for six trials, but on the seventh trial vinegar was substituted. 
Immediately upon tasting the vinegar he began spitting, shook his 
head, gritted his teeth, and seemed to shiver all over; then he 
cried. On the eighth trial he was again given orange juice. Tears 
were dried and the investigation proceeded with orange juice for 
five more trials. On the next trial (the fourteenth) the vinegar 
was repeated, and this time synchronously with the sounding of a 
telegraph snapper which he had previously been playing with and 
clicking enjoyably. There was the same reaction as on trial seven. 
Orange juice was again given for four trials; then vinegar and 
snapper were presented simultaneously just as on the fourteenth 
trial. On the second day it was found that the snapper, even when 
presented with pure water, gave the conditioned reaction of dis- 
like. In other words, the liking for the snapper was experimentally 
converted into a disliking; the boy's attitude toward the snapper 
had been completely changed. 

In everyday life one frequently is unaware of the way in which 
likes and dislikes have been acquired. Names, faces, objects, colors, 
events, activities, etc., are often liked or disliked but what is the 
basis of these reactions? Sometimes a careful psychological analysis 
reveals the explanation for liking or disliking something, as in the 
following instance described by Tait, which demonstrates how an 
apparently trivial dislike for a color was based upon an emotional 
experience of childhood. During an experiment it was found that 
some subjects had strong likes and dislikes for colors. One subject 


could give no reason for his marked dislike of the color brown. 
In studying the case these instructions were used: 

"Take the word 'brown 5 . . . and write it down five times with 
as much concentration of attention as possible. Then start the 
metronome at about forty and write a word for every beat. . . . 
Give yourself a free hand as much as possible. A passive state will 
aid you," 

Among the words recalled and listed, "blood" occurred frequently. 
The dislike was finally traced back to a childhood experience de- 
scribed in the following report: 

It reverts to childhood,, just the year I cannot say, but it was 
between the age of seven and ten. I was visiting my grandmother 
(summer time), and a swing had been constructed in the barn, 
where I and my two playmates spent most of our time. As I look 
back now that barn was a most mysterious place to me very mys- 
terious full of pits and rats. Yet in the daytime we explored it 
without fear. Late one afternoon, while I was swinging alone, one 
of the ropes broke and I took a bad fall backwards, hitting my head 
a "glancing blow on a floor support. I remember, now, distinctly, 
my dazed condition as I turned to look at what I had hit, and saw 
drops, several of them, of reddish-brown blood. Brown, I suppose, 
because I was somewhat dazed. I quickly put my hand to the back 
of my head and found it wet. I had given myself a rather severe 
cut on the scalp, and it was bleeding badly. I remember the unusual 
feeling of my fingers as they touched the bruised spot wet with 
blood. It was the first time, so far as I can recall, that I had per- 
sonally come in contact with blood. In real childhood fear, I jumped 
up, crying, and rushed to my grandmother. When I went to the 
barn next day those spots were brown. . . . 

The subject explained his distaste for brown by referring to that 
strong emotional experience of childhood. Each one of us has un- 
explained likes or dislikes, the origins of which lie in obscure past 

The Acquired Basis of Afiective Reactions and Value 
Judgments. After one has learned to like or to dislike something, 
a modified neural organization remains which predisposes the in- 
dividual to react positively or negatively towards that thing. This 
is true of simple sensory presentations, as in the foregoing example 



with Billie. One also learns to react positively or negatively to more 
complex situations, such as playing golf, working crossword puz- 
zles, taking an auto trip, voting for a republican candidate, and 
so on. In the sphere of highly complicated ideas concerning pro- 
hibition, the church, the republican party, the theory of biological 
evolution, capital punishment one has biases pro and con. The 
term "attitude" has been applied to the mental organization which 
predisposes an individual to react favorably or unfavorably toward 
some stated proposition (p. 242). 

The mental organization remains latent until some event calls 
forth a reaction. Then it determines the direction in which the 
individual will turn, just as the railway track determines whether 
the train will turn right or left. 

Neural, or mental, organization predisposes not simply towards 
or away from, but strongly or weakly towards, definitely or hesi- 
tatingly away from. That is, it can evoke varying degrees of posi- 
tive or negative response. Moreover, it renders possible those fine 
distinctions of relative value implied in such statements as: "The 
fragrance of orange blossoms is more pleasing than that of lilacs." 
"To tell a lie is sometimes more highly moral than not to tell one." 
"The music of Beethoven is more highly developed in form than 
that of Mozart." 

Value judgments such as the above depend upon a whole series 
of discriminations within some limited range of experience. Whether 
it concern literary merit, soundness of business policy, esthetic 
beauty, scientific correctness, or political maneuvering, the ability to 
discriminate between better and worse is built up within one grad- 
ually through persistent activity within the restricted area of ex- 
perience. How is the neural organization which dominates these 
judgments built up? 

Habituation doubtless plays an important role in developing the 
processes of evaluation. For example, an individual who is thor- 
oughly accustomed to clean table linen and carefully prepared food 
would place a very low value upon the greasy meal and rough 
board of a poor mountaineer in an environment of pigs, chickens, 
and flies. Yet the mountaineer, accustomed all his life to the sim- 
ple, crudely prepared food, eats the same meal with relish and values 
it highly. The esthetic evaluation of the meal obviously depends 



upon previous experiences of the individual. The daily life of col- 
lege students also affords an apt Illustration of this principle. A 
consistent grade A student is much distressed at receiving the grade 
of C in one of his courses, whereas on the other hand, a poor stu- 
dent who was expecting a failing grade of In a given course is 
delighted to receive the passing grade of D Instead. Similarly, one's 
judgment of pleasantness or unpleasantness for any kind of sensory 
material depends upon what has gone before. A pleasant odor, as 
previously noted, is reported more intensely pleasant when it fol- 
lows a group of unpleasant odors than when it stands alone, and 
similarly an unpleasant odor becomes more intensely unpleasant 
when It immediately follows pleasant odors than when It stands by 

Washburn has stated the principle of affective contrast in the fol- 
lowing words: "The pleasure of an agreeable experience is height- 
ened if it is preceded by a disagreeable experience, and an impression 
in itself unpleasant may be felt as pleasant if a more unpleasant 
state has been its antecedent. In like manner unpleasantness may be 
heightened or even created through contrast with a preceding agree- 
able affective state. These are laws of the affective life which every- 
day experience has established." 

In order to determine how an affective judgment varies with 
previous judgments on materials which belong to the same unitary 
group, or Gestalt) Beebe-Center performed an interesting experi- 
ment with odors. The following diagram aids in understanding 
the plan of the experiment: 

(i) a b c d e ....... initial values 

0-) a b c d e ---- values after habituation to a and b 

(3) a b c d e .......... values after habituation to d and e 

(4) -4-3-2.- i o-fi 

A group of odors (a, b, c, d, e, line i), was selected so that judg- 

ments would be distributed normally over the scale of affective 
values represented In line 4. 

One experiment consisted of first habituating the subjects to af- 
fective judgments with unpleasant odors, a and b, and then testing 
their affective judgments for the entire series. Although c, d t and c 
were not presented In the habituation or "determination" series, a 


test showed that the entire group of odors had shifted toward greater 
pleasantness, as indicated in line 2. Another experiment consisted 
of habituating the subjects to affective judgments with pleasant 
odors, d and c 9 and later, of testing the complete series. After this 
kind of preliminary "determination" the entire series shifted toward 
greater unpleasantness, as shown in line 3. 

In other words, the affective judgment of a particular odor was 
found to depend in part upon all previous . judgments of those 
odors which, with it, constituted a unitary group. The shifts which 
Beebe-Center demonstrated were assumed to depend upon dynamic 
changes within the neural mechanism which determined the value 
judgment. In general, one's total experience with a class of ma- 
terials builds up a neural basis for evaluation of those materials. 


Psychological hedonism assumes that felt experiences (pleasure- 
pain) are motives. It teaches that we continue activities which are 
pleasing and avoid unpleasant ones; that we learn to do those ac- 
tions which bring pleasantness and to eliminate those which induce 
unpleasantness. In considering the hedonistic doctrine, therefore, 
we should examine the nature of pleasant and unpleasant feeling. 

When a subject reports "pleasant" or "unpleasant" in the course 
of an experiment he refers to individual conscious experiences. This 
fact cannot be avoided. The terms "pleasant" and "unpleasant" 
refer to conscious experiences as truly as do "red," "green," "pres- 
sure," or "cold." 

What is the nature of the felt experience to which the terms 
"pleasant" and "unpleasant" refer ? Unfortunately the question can- 
not at present be answered scientifically, despite the fact that numer- 
ous attempts have been made to do so. It is one of those questions 
the answer to which is still scientifically indeterminate. 

The history of psychology teaches that many views regarding the 
nature of felt experience have been held; it is futile to discuss here 
the relative merits of these varied opinions, because up to the 
present time no single view has won general acceptance. It is in- 
structive, however, to ask: "What has been the trouble with the 
controversies and experiments upon the nature of felt experience?" 

The fundamental difficulty can be made clear by an analogy to 



one of the dot figures which are so well known In the field of per- 
ception. Let the eyes move at random over the following pattern 
of dots: 

Groups of twos, threes, fours, fives, etc., are readily observed; simple 
and complex patterns appear. With proper mental set one can see 
large and small groupings, regular and irregular, and perhaps no 
grouping at all. Seemingly an indefinite number of configurations 
are observable. So in affective psychology the facts may be envisaged 
in different ways. Trouble begins when one attempts to say which 
view is true and which is false; this is like arguing that the dots 
are actually grouped by threes or by fours, in this way or in that. 
One can seek an answer to the question as to the ultimate nature 
of felt experience either through reflection or through observation. 
In the latter case a curious situation arises in which any one of a 
number of possible views may appear to be correct with no scientific 
criterion for determining whether one view is ultimately more valid 
than another, or whether all are equally true. Quite possibly all 
views are true or partly true just as the dots are truly arranged in 
various ways. To illustrate the contending views, five of the more 
important contemporary theories will be presented below. 

i. If one attempts to observe his own pleasant or unpleasant feel- 
ing directly, these experiences are found to be elusive. One observes 
some sensory process or pattern such as pressure or pain, but no 
unique feeling, no mind stuff. The affective experiences are merely 
felt and reported; they cannot be attentively observed, but vanish 
as soon as one attempts to put a finger upon them. Because of this 
difficulty a view has arisen that pleasantness and unpleasantness lac\ 
the attribute of clearness or vividness which characterizes sensory 
processes (Titchener). The view gives rise to an experimental set-up 
in which the subject merely feels and reports without attempting 
to perceive what is felt. Subject and experimenter alike, both ad- 


herents of this view, approach felt experience with the assumption 
that affective processes are impalpable, not observable as are sensory 
processes. If one claims, on the contrary, that the subject's report of 
a pleasant feeling after smelling a particular perfume is an observa- 
tion, one must clearly understand that it is not the same kind of 
observation as that made with the eye, ear, or hand. 

2. From time to time, however, the above hypothesis has led to 
dissatisfaction among psychologists, which has resulted in the 
formulation of another view. According to this view, it is claimed 
that pleasantness and unpleasantness are truly sensory in nature and 
that they are attentively observable. A recent form of the sensory 
view which is supported by experimental evidence is that of Nafc. 
According to Nafe, pleasantness and unpleasantness, when directly 
observed, are sensory processes resembling pressure pleasantness, a 
bright pressure; and unpleasantness, a dull pressure. The view is 
stated in the following words : 

"Pleasantness, as a psychological experience, consists of discrete 
bright points of experience in the general nature of a thrill but 
usually much less intensive. It is vaguely localized in the upper part 
of the body and quickly adapts or fatigues. Unpleasantness is similar 
but characteristically duller, heavier, more of the pressure type of 
experience and is localized in the abdomen or in the lower part of 
the body." 

The obvious comment about this hypothesis is that, if the sub- 
jects approach affective consciousness predisposed to observe some- 
thing sensory, the chances are they will succeed in observing sensory 
processes. The important question, however, is whether the observed 
processes can truly be identified with pleasant and unpleasant feel- 

3. Still another view of the problem is one which is quite common 
in daily life, but rare among contemporary psychologists. The view 
is that pleasantness and unpleasantness are attributes or characteris- 
tics of certain sensations. Just as two tastes may differ in quality 
(e-g-> sweet, bitter, salt, sour) and intensity (e.g., weak salt, intense 
salt) so they may differ in feeling-tone (pleasant, unpleasant). 
That is, the pleasantness of the sweet taste is an attribute of the 
taste itself. 

This view was held by Ziehen, and at one time by Wundt, who 
later, however, changed to the first view. It agrees with everyday 
habits of speech which refer feelings, moods, and emotions to some 


sensory presentation. Thus one speaks of the pleasantness of a per- 
fume, the unpleasantness of a cold temperature, and so on. 

4. A fourth view is that pleasantness and unpleasantness designate 
value judgments based upon acceptance or rejection. Carr has de- 
veloped this judgmental conception of pleasantness and unpleasant- 
ness. If a stimulating situation, uncomplicated by secondary motivat- 
ing factors, induces a positive reaction, it is judged pleasant; if it 
evokes a negative reaction, unpleasant. The affective judgment rests 
upon normal uninhibited reactions. 

The way In which objects and events affect the subject is indicated 
by such statements as "The object is pleasant," "X is more pleasant 
than Y." These judgments are based upon incipient or overt reac- 
tions which give the affective meanings. 

5. Beebe-Center, realizing the complete lack of agreement con- 
cerning the existential nature of pleasantness and unpleasantness, 
defined hedonic tone as a concept referring to felt experience. For 
him, pleasantness and unpleasantness are respectively the positive 
and negative vdues of a single algebraic variable, hedonic tone. 

Now which of the above views shall we accept? Every one has 
been taken seriously by competent psychologists. Every one has 

experimental evidence which can be mustered to support It. These 
views have been argued pro and con, and there are still others and 
various modifications of these which might be added to the list. 
The question, "Which view Is true and which false?" Is beside the 
point, for there is apparently no way to answer it by appealing to 
experimental evidence. The attempt to determine the ultimate na- 
ture of pleasant and unpleasant feelings is a cul-de-sac in a scientific 

The trouble is not chat any one doubts the existence o pleasant 
and unpleasant feelings, but rather that the apparent nature of these 
feelings is to such a high degree made or molded by the attitude 
of the individual subject. As with the dot figures, it Is best to recog- 
nize that the apparent nature of pleasantness and unpleasantness 
is relative to the subject's attitude. This view of the problem may 
be designated attitudinal because It stresses the importance of the 
attitude of an Individual in defining the nature of felt experience. 
The attitudinal view at first appears to be negative, but actually it 
offers a positive basis for evaluating the historical controversies 
which have arisen over the nature of affective consciousness, and 


it offers also a constructive program for laboratory investigations of 
felt experience in which the attitude of a subject is a prime condi- 
tion (pp. 365-378). 

Fortunately the unsophisticated subject who smells an odor and 
reports "pleasant" or "unpleasant" is not troubled by questions of 
systematic psychology. To him the ultimate nature of pleasantness 
and unpleasantness is neither more nor less of a problem than the 
ultimate nature of red, or pain. The care-free subject merely takes 
a whiff and says "pleasant," "unpleasant," or "indifferent," and to 
him "little can be gained," as some wag once said, "by an attempt 
to unscrew the inscrutable!" 

Regardless of one's systematic views upon the nature of pleasant- 
ness and unpleasantness these experiences are among the facts or 
data with which the psychologist deals. They are not in any sense 
physical processes. Hence they are not causes of bodily movement 

For the rest of this chapter we will hold to a matter-of-fact, 
process view of the affective experiences. From this standpoint we 
will consider the following topics: the nature of simple affective 
reactions to stimulating objects; pleasant and unpleasant feeling in 
relation to muscular activity; the mental conditions of pleasant and 
unpleasant feeling; preferential discriminations. We will conclude 
the chapter with a statement concerning the relation of pleasant and 
unpleasant feeling to motivation. 


Suppose we have before us the following objects: (a) a lump of 

sugar, () an intense quinine solution, (<r) a bottle of old rose per- 
fume, (d) a bottle containing decaying flesh, (e) a soft, warm ball 
of cotton, (/) a needle for puncturing the skin. If these and similar 
objects be presented to the tongue, nose, or skin, as the case might 
be, the normal subject, who has been instructed to indicate his 
liking or disliking for the presentations, will report that (a), (c} 3 
and (e) are pleasing and that (F), (d), and (/) are displeasing. A 
demonstration of this kind reveals directly and convincingly the 
central problem of affective psychology. 

In general, an individual is likely to regard as pleasing and dis- 
pleasing the following kinds of experience, respectively: 



Tasting sugar Tasting bitter medicine 

Smelling flowers, fruit, and savory Smelling decaying flesh 

foodstuffs Feeling pain from injury 

Feeling warmth when cold Enduring organic pains in hunger, 

Feeling coolness when heated thirst, and disease 
Sexual excitement under appropri- 
ate conditions 

Thus some stimulating objects quite consistently evoke the de- 
scriptive words "pleasing," "agreeable," "acceptable," whereas others 
call forth the report "unpleasant," "disagreeable," "unacceptable." 
The significance of the difference is guaranteed both by individual 
consistency of report over a considerable period of time and by the 
statistical constancy of affective reports when various groups of 
subjects are tested. 

So long as we limit ourselves to a consideration of stimulating 
objects, and to the verbal or gestural reports of liking and disliking, 
made by carefully instructed subjects, we are on sure ground. When, 
however, we inquire about the fundamental basis of these reports of 
liking or disliking, we find ourselves confronted with different 
interpretations. On the one hand, the laboratory subject commonly 
believes that his reports of liking and disliking are based upon 
pleasant or unpleasant consciousness; he regards the verbal state- 
ments as meaningful communications of affective experience. The 
objective psychologist, on the other hand, assumes that the words 
"I like it" and "I dislike it" are symbols for positive or negative 
behavior, or else that they are based upon some physiological proc- 
esses in the nerves and muscles. These interpretations are all valid. 
The first presupposes the viewpoint of the consciously experiencing 
individual; the last two, that of the objective psychologist. 

In everyday life, of course, the reports of liking and disliking are 
generally given without any reference to the affective reactions 
upon which they are based. As a matter of fact, the average man 
who smells a rose and says "I like it" would consider it foolish to 
inquire why that particular fragrance is liked. To designate the 
organic processes upon which reports of liking and disliking are 
based we will use the words "affective reactions." 



Affective Reactions to Taste Solutions. In an experiment 
upon the sense of taste, Saidullah studied the relationship between 
reports of pleasant and unpleasant feeling and the concentration of 
taste solution. In one series he used eighteen solutions of table salt 
varying in concentration from 0.5 per cent to 30 per cent. The sub- 
ject was instructed to take a gulp of a given solution and then to 


9 e C 
-18* C 
.36 C 

10 12 14 16 IB 
Percentage Concentration 


UNPLEASANT FEELING. (After Saidullah.) 

The horizontal line gives the percentage concentration of the salt solution up to 18 per 
cent. The vertical gives the difference between frequencies of pleasant and unpleasant feelings 
as reported.* Three temperatures were used. 

report his affective experience, disregarding so far as possible the 
sensory quality and intensity of the taste. 

The solutions were arranged in two equivalent series with strong 
and weak intensities in irregular sequence. Two series were given 
at different times to eight subjects, which yielded sixteen judgments 
per solution. Figure 71, which presents the results graphically, gives 
concentrations of salt solution for abscissae, and for ordinates the 
differences between frequency of pleasant and unpleasant feelings 
as reported by the subjects. The curve shows that there is an opti- 
mum salt concentration for pleasantness somewhere between 2 and 

*The terms "pleasant," "pleasing," "pleasantness" are conventionally represented by P 
and the terms "unpleasant," "displeasing," "unpleasantness" by U, and indifference by I- 



3 per cent. It shows, further, that very low concentrations are 
slightly unpleasant or indifferent, and that between 3 and 7 per 
cent there is a very rapid transition from pleasantness to unpleasant- 
ness. Solutions above 9 per cent were uniformly unpleasant for the 
eight subjects; values above 18 per cent, not shown on the curve, 
were all unpleasant. 

Three temperatures of the liquid were used: cold (9C), luke- 
warm (i8C), warm (36C.) Of the three, 9C gave the greatest 




y*- 4 o / y ii 13 15 zu 30 .- 




The horizontal line gives the percentage concentration of the sugar solutions. The vertical 
line gives the number of reports of pleasant, unpleasant, and indifferent feelings. The total 
number of responses was fifty-six for each solution, and the sum of all the responses 
equals fifty-six at every concentration. 

frequency for reports of pleasantness. The results indicate that re- 
gardless of the temperature a concentration somewhere between 2 
and 3 per cent is optimum for pleasant feeling. 

A similar study with taste solutions was made by Engel. His 
curve for the different concentrations of salt solution confirms that 
of Saidullah given in Fig. 71. EngePs graphs for quinine and acid 
solutions approach 100 per cent unpleasantness as their limit, but 
the curve for sugar solutions is distinctly different. This curve, 
which varies with the concentration of sugar solutions, is repro- 
duced in Fig. 72. Whereas very weak solutions elicited reports of 
indifference and occasional unpleasantness, with all concentrations 


above 9 per cent the sugar solutions were reported approximately 
100 per cent pleasant. 

Sweets are notoriously agreeable to normal adults; they are espe- 
cially well liked by children. Also in the writer's food-preference 
experiment, sugar was found to be strongly demanded by rats which 
were maintained upon a standard balanced diet. Figure 72 not only 
confirms this generally recognized fact, but it goes a step further. 
It shows that affective reactions are not lawless, as many people 
commonly suppose^ but that they vary with the existing conditions 
in a fairly exact quantitative manner. 

Affective Reactions to Olfactory Stimuli. Odors are serv- 
iceable in the study of pleasant and unpleasant experiences because 
olfactory stimuli evoke definite affective reactions. In experiments 
made by the writer with the collaboration of Emily Kniep and 
Winona Morgan, chemically pure organic substances, most of which 
were unfamiliar to the subjects, were presented under carefully con- 
trolled conditions. The ventilation and illumination of the experi- 
mental room, the printed instructions given to the subjects, the 
timing of each presentation, the intervals between presentations, 
and other conditions were all kept constant. The subjects were 
instructed to be passive and composed, to close the eyes during the 
time of smelling, and to report immediately whether they liked or 
disliked the odor presented in a given trial* 

After a preliminary study of pleasing and displeasing smell- 
substances a series of sixteen suitable ones was selected for presenta- 
tion.* The aim was to select olfactory stimuli which would give 
approximately a linear series ranging from zero to 100 per cent 
pleasantness. This series was presented to 100 college students under 
standard conditions. For every odor a percentage of pleasantness 

*The following substances, to be designated hereafter by number, were employed: 

1. Camphor. 9- GeranioL 

2. Methyl salicylate. 10. Ethyl cinnamate. 

3. Vanillin. -Caprok acid. 

4. ^-Dichlorobenzene. 12. Quinoline. 

5. Menthol 13. Heptyl aldehyde. 

6. Phenol. 14- o-Bromotoluene. 

7. Acetophenone. I5 <&-Pheny! ether. 

8. Nitrobenzene. 16. Empty bottle. 

Several additional substances were tried and rejected because o high divisibility, or be- 
cause they stimulated tactual nerves in the nose. 

34 6 


was computed, based upon the number of subjects reporting it as 
pleasant. The graph in Fig. 73 represents the odors ranked accord- 
ing to the percentage of reported pleasantness. How well we suc- 
ceeded in selecting smell-substances which would give a linear dis- 
tribution is shown in the figure. 

Having attained this selection we next set about studying the 
constancy of affective reactions with subjects of different ages. The 
odors were presented to two groups of children. One group con- 



*. 60- 






13 11 12 8 14 

10 6 15 7 16 5 19 42 3 
Odor Number 

FIG. 73. PERCENTAGE OF PLEASANTNESS FOR ODORS. (From Knicp, Morgan, and Young.) 
The length of a line indicates the percentage of TOO subjects reporting an odor as pleas- 
ing. Numbers at the base refer to the substances used, the names of which are given in a 
footnote, page 345. The odors are ranked from the least to the most pleasant. In- computing 
the percentage of pleasantness a report of indifference was counted as 1 A pleasant and % 

tained fifty children, ages seven to nine; the other contained the 
same number, ages eleven to thirteen. It was found desirable with 
children to shorten the test series. Consequently the last two smell- 
substances of the regular series were dropped, fourteen remaining. 
The results of the three series of tests are shown in Fig. 74. The 
solid line presents the odors ranked in order of pleasantness, from 
the highest to the lowest, on the basis of reports of adults. The cor- 
responding values with the eleven-to-thirteen-year-old group (dotted 
line) and with the seven-to-nine-year group (dash line) are also 
plotted. The graphs reveal at a glance that affective reactions to 



olfactory stimuli are to a high degree independent of age. The 
coefficients of correlation among the groups range from 0.91 , to 
0.98. The frequency with which an odor evokes a pleasant or un- 
pleasant response is thus seen to be highly constant within the age 
limits of seven to twenty-four years. 

These findings demonstrate that the bodily mechanisms which 
determine liking and disliking for odors are relatively mature at 


10 14 12 


5 16 7 6 
Odor Number 


FOR DIFFERENT AGE GROUPS. (From Kniep, Morgan,, and Young.) 
The odors are arranged in a descending order of pleasantness on the basis o reports 
from 100 adults. The percentage of pleasantness is shown with 50 children, ages seven to 
nine, and with 50, ages eleven to thirteen. 

the age of seven, especially in view of the fact that most of the 
smell-substances used were unfamiliar to the subjects. Hence asso- 
ciation played a relatively small role the likes and dislikes were 
determined mainly by innate factors. 

One incidental result is of interest. Number 16 was not a smell- 
substance at all but rather an empty sterilized bottle presented for 
affective report in the context of odors. One might expect that the 
affective reports to this control would be about 50 per cent pleasant 
at all ages. As a matter of fact, the value was 61 per cent pleasant 
with adults, with the older children it was 67 per cent, and with 



the younger children 82 per cent. The explanation of this curious 
finding probably lies in the position of the empty bottle in the 
series of odors; it came by chance Immediately after several un- 
pleasant odors. Now it has been demonstrated that a pleasant odor 
is more frequently reported pleasant when it follows unpleasant 
odors than when given alone. Similarly an unpleasant odor is more 
frequently reported unpleasant when it follows several pleasant odors. 
In other words, the position of an odor in a group is one factor in 
determining its percentage of pleasantness. There is every reason to 
believe that this contrast principle applies to the empty bottle in 
the context of pleasant and unpleasant odors; and that with chil- 
dren the principle is more pronounced than with adults. At least, 
this hypothesis offers a plausible explanation of the unexpected re- 

A Test of Affective Sensitivity. Some individuals are hard 
to please; others are easily pleased. In other words, individuals differ 
in affective sensitivity. How can one test the readiness of a given 
individual to be pleased or displeased? If a subject reports that all 
or most of the odors in the above series are pleasant, he is obviously 
more readily pleased than an individual who reports only a few 
or none of them as pleasant. Of course, it is likely that some per- 
sons are harder to please in one field of experience, and some in 
another. Then, too, the same individual is more readily pleased 
in one mood than in another. These differences must be constantly 
kept in mind while considering the following results. 

On the basis of the data obtained in the foregoing experiment, 
a percentage of reports of pleasantness was computed for every 
adult subject. One hundred per cent indicates that all sixteen odors 
of the series were reported as pleasant and none as unpleasant. 
Fifty per cent indicates that half were designated pleasant and half 
unpleasant, or else that all were reported as indifferent. The distri- 
bution of the percentages of reports of pleasantness for 100 adult 
subjects is given in Fig. 75, in which each subject's score is repre- 
sented by a single dot. Toward the right are the scores of subjects 
most readily pleased and toward the left the scores of those hardest 
to please with odors. 

With the two groups of children raw scores were plotted directly 
instead of converting them into percentages. The raw score is 


merely the total number of presentations reported as pleasant plus 
% of the reports of indifference. Thus the maximum possible score 
is -fourteen (all reported pleasant) and the minimum possible score 
zero (none reported pleasant). The distributions of these scores 
are presented in Fig. 76. 

For all age groups the scores in the affective sensitivity test give 
approximately a normal curve of distribution. These curves show 
how individuals differ in their readiness to be pleased by odors. It 
is likely that the symmetrical shape of the above curves depends to 

Mean 48.25 
M. V. 9.37 
Sigma Dist 13.9 
Median 49.9 

5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 95 



Kniep> Morgan, and Young.") 

The base line shows the percentage of the sixteen odors reported as pleasant. The verticals 
give the frequency of the various scores, a dot representing the score for a single person. 

some extent upon the balanced selection of pleasant and unpleas- 
ant odors as stimuli for the test. With a group of presentations con- 
sisting entirely of markedly pleasant or markedly unpleasant odors 
the curves might easily be skewed towards one side or the other. 
Affective Reactions to Thermal, Organic, Auditory, and 
Visual Stimuli. In discussing the nature of the transition from 
pleasantness to unpleasantness, Lehmann described a few observa- 
tions in which the subjects dipped their fingers into water of vary- 
ing temperatures. In one test there was an ascending series of dis- 
crete temperatures. Two fingers were dipped into the first water, 



held there for five seconds, then transferred to the next higher tem- 
perature, and so on. In the other test the fingers were held in the 
water continuously for two minutes and twenty seconds while the 
temperature was gradually changing. In both tests a temperature of 
35C was reported as pleasant warmth and a temperature of 50C 
as painful heat. 

It is an interesting observation that unpleasantness appears some- 
where between the temperatures of 40 C and 45 C, since this is 

Mean 7.7 
Ages 7-9 s. D. 2.6 

















Ages 11-13 








Mean 7.0 
S. D. 2.3 



123456789 11 13 123456789 11 13 


TEST. (From Kniep, Morgan, and Young.) 

The base line shows the number of reports of "pleasant" in a series of fourteen affective 
reactions. The height of the verticals shows the frequency for each number of reports of 

also the range of temperatures where warmth turns into sensory 
heat.* Between 45 C and 50 C pain excitation is added, and marked 
unpleasantness is associated with the painful or burning heat. These 
observations make it clear that warmth is pleasant and that heat is 
unpleasant painful heat very markedly so. The experiment should 
be repeated with a greater number of subjects so that frequency 
curves showing the quantitative relationship between affective re- 
actions and temperature could be plotted, similar to those shown 
in Figs. 71 and 72 for tastes. Lehmann's work points toward the 

* Experiments have shown that sensory heat depends upon a physiological fusion of 
excitations from the cold and warmth spots. 


existence of the same precise quantitative relationships between 
thermal stimuli and affective reactions. 

Organic stimuli are known to evoke definite affective reactions. 
Muscle aches, gastric pains, nausea, chills and fever, hunger, thirst, 
and similar organic experiences are typically described as unpleas- 
ant; whereas relief from internal pressure, sexual satisfaction, rest 
and relaxation are typically pleasant. 

It is an interesting fact that the most marked affective reactions 
come from those senses that have direct contact with the energies 
of the environment (touch, pain, temperature), from those that 
stand guard at the entrance to the alimentary tract (taste, smell), 
and from those that indicate internal bodily conditions (organic 
and kinesthetic senses). The distance senses (vision, hearing, and to 
some extent smell), on the other hand, function primarily in the 
observation of objects and situations for the purpose of making 
adjustments to them. These senses are the basis of the fine arts, but a 
discussion of pleasant and unpleasant feeling in the fine arts be- 
longs with experimental esthetics rather than in this connection. 

Very loud noises are painful and unpleasant. Some noises, such 
as the sound made by scratching the blackboard with one's finger 
nail, induce bodily reverberations of a highly unpleasant character. 
Musical tones and chords, on the other hand, are frequently pleas- 
ing. Dazzling and flickering lights are annoying. Highly saturated 
bright colors are pleasing to some; tints and shades at low saturation 
please others. 

However, as stated above, the affective reactions evoked by simple 
tones and colors are much weaker than those evoked by odors, 
tastes, and cutaneous and organic stimuli. The colors used in paint- 
ing and the tones in music do produce pleasing esthetic effects, but 
a great deal of esthetic appreciation depends upon one's training. 
Individual differences in appreciation of art are very marked. After 
years of careful study, von Allesh found that the beauty or ugliness 
of a color is highly variable, depending upon its background and 
other factors which constitute its esthetic context. 

The Conception of Affective Reaction. The phrase "affec- 
tive reaction," as stated above, designates the organic processes upon 
which the reports of liking and disliking are based. Our conception 
is that the affective reaction is a unitary process in nature. It may 


be observed from various angles. Feelings of pleasantness and un- 
pleasantness are the subjective aspect of the ultimate affective reac- 
tions. The behavioral aspect of the processes appears as the dynamic 
activity of accepting or avoiding, plus a lot of other expressive reac- 
tions vocal outcries, facial expressions, muscular contractions, 
glandular secretions, etc. which cannot readily be interpreted in 
terms of positive-negative behavior. Another aspect of affective re- 
action is the physiological. To the physiologist an affective reaction 
is a process within the subject's nervous system, muscles, and 
glands. This process may be some sort of blocking or inhibition for 
unpleasantness, and a release of blocking or facilitation for pleasant- 

Of course, the subject who reports liking or disliking is not con- 
cerned with the fundamental basis of his reactions. The psychol- 
ogist also, starting from verbal reports of the subject, can investi- 
gate affective sensitivity, individual differences in likes and dislikes, 
interests, attitudes, and a host of other important topics without 
once questioning the underlying basis of the subject's reports. There 
is thus an uncritical, general meaning of the phrase "affective reac- 
tion'' which is practically useful. 

A question of fundamental scientific importance is this: What 
reactions bring pleasantness to the reagent, and what bring unpleas- 
antness? Although the preceding pages have cited many examples 
of both types, the following functional classification gives a more 
complete answer to the question. 

i. As regards food-taking, the activities of approaching food, 
bringing it to the mouth, acceleration of the salivary flow, chewing, 
swallowing, and other phases of the digestive process, are typically 
associated with pleasant feeling. On the other hand, movements of 
repulsion and avoidance, spitting food out of the mouth, gagging, 
vomiting, sometimes complicated by the flow of tears and redden- 
ing of the face, are characteristically associated with unpleasantness. 
Sweet substances usually lead to the positive or pleasure-bringing 
type of affective reaction; bitter, to the negative or displeasure- 
evoking type. Again, the same object may evoke positive behavior 
in one organism and negative in another. For example, I recall 
vividly the picture of a dog eating with apparent relish the carcass 
of a horse; to me the odor and sight of the horse-meat were nauseat- 


ing. Thus, the dog reacted positively and I reacted negatively to 
the same food object. Again, the case of Jack Sprat and his wife 
needs no special comment. Then, too, the same individual may 
react with pleasantness at one time to something which, at another 
time and under different circumstances, he reacts to negatively or 
with complete indifference. The affective reaction to iced tea pre- 
sented on a cold winter day and again on a hot summer day illus- 
trates the point. A slice of bread and butter offered at the end of a 
full meal and again when hungry, further shows the relativity of 
affective reactions to conditions. Although there are innumerable 
food substances, there are only two dynamic behavior relationships 
with respect to them accepting and eating, rejecting and avoiding. 
If neither of these dynamic possibilities is realized, as is likely to be 
the case when food is presented to a satiated individual, the affec- 
tive experience is indifferent. 

2. The olfactory reactions are closely related to food-taking and 
to sexual behavior. In general, the odors of foods such as fresh 
fruit, cooking meat, etc., are pleasing. The scents of non-edible 
flowers are agreeable; these odors in nature are associated with 
reproduction, in that they attract insects which fertilize the plant. 
All the pleasing odors evoke reactions of continued sniffing, some- 
times complicated by smiling, closing the eyes, looking up, and 
approach. On the other hand, the odors from decaying foods are 
typically disagreeable; the reactions are inhibition of respiration, 
turning away of the head, shuddering, shivering, making faces, 
gutteral exclamations of disgust, and other forms of escape and re- 

If an irritating substance such as pepper or ammonia gets into 
the nasal cavity, a sneeze occurs, sometimes complicated by a flow 
of tears, frowning, and other evidences of discomfort. The sneeze 
is a form of rejection; it clears substances out of the air passages. 
Curiously enough, however, the sneeze is also at times evoked by 
sudden bright light; here it is difficult to see how it can be consid- 
ered as an avoiding reaction. 

3. Cutaneous stimulations often evoke marked affective reactions. 
Cuts, burns, electrical shocks, stimulations from acids, and other 
noxious excitations lead to reflex withdrawal, and often to various 
secondary activities such as outcries of pain and writhing. These 
negative reactions free the organism from the injurious stimulations. 
On the other hand, soft, warm, smooth contacts usually evoke a 
pleasing reaction. The stimulation of sensitive zones brings the 


tlckl'e responses which characteristically are pleasing even though 
associated with a pseudo-withdrawal. 

The relation between sensitive-zone responses and sexual behavior 
is debatable. According to Allport, the 'sensitive-zone reactions in 
the child are not at the start sexual, but as the individual develops 
they become integrated with truly sexual behavior patterns. The 
cutaneous contacts of sexual behavior are pleasing and associated 
with positive behavior. 

4. Brief mention should be made of the affective reactions to 
visual and auditory stimuli. As previously noted (p. 351), glaring 
and flickering lights induce displeasing reactions of blinking, clos- 
ing the eyes, frowning, looking away, and other protective move- 
ments. Highly saturated blues and greens bring pleasing reactions. 
Harsh, rasping, shrill noises induce unpleasantness. The murmur- 
ing of wind in the trees, the rushing or trickling of water, the 
sounding of musical tones bring pleasing affective reactions. 

5. Affective reactions are evoked through the \inesthetic receptors 
located in muscles, tendons, and joints. For a rested organism, 
rhythmical movements are usually pleasure-producing, whether 
they are made in work such as hoeing a field, in gymnastic exer- 
cises and sports such as rowing a boat, in dancing, or games. The 
free, untrammeled movement of the muscular system is pleasure- 
evoking. On the other hand, overactivity which induces fatigue 
with a sense of tiredness and lassitude is productive of unpleasant- 


6. Organic states of hunger, thirst, nausea, and those present in 
various disease conditions, are productive of unpleasantness and 
behavior which, so far as possible, tends to remove the source of 
discomfort. On the other hand, states of well-being, health, readi- 
ness for activity, are accompanied by a pleasant mood. 
^ 7. Environmental conditions such as temperature of surrounding 
air, humidity, air movement, and other elements of weather and 
climate are productive of pleasantness or unpleasantness. Whatever 
tends to interfere with maintaining the normal body temperature 
of 98.6F gives rise to negative behavior associated with discomfort. 

The above examples of affective reaction show that there is no 
one-to-one relationship between positive behavior and pleasant feel- 
ing, and between negative behavior and unpleasantness. Many 
peripheral manifestations of pleasant and unpleasant feeling such as 
vocalization, change in sweat secretion, erection of hairs, trembling, 


and so oncannot be interpreted as seeking and avoiding reactions. 
Again, the responses to kinesthetic and organic excitations, though 
definitely affective, are not outwardly observable as simple positive 
and negative reactions. Finally, the feelings evoked by organic 
states and environmental conditions are relatively stable moods 
rather than simple feelings of brief duration. In a word, the theory 
which identifies pleasantness with positive behavior and unpleasant- 
ness with negative is not sufficiently comprehensive to cover all the 

Our conception of affective reaction stresses the process-like nature 
of pleasantness and unpleasantness. These feelings do not reside in 
objects, nor are they properties of objects. They are ultimate experi- 
ences which appear at the time of certain reactions to objects and 

In common parlance objects, events, and situations are spoken of 
as pleasant or unpleasant. Thus one refers to a pleasant evening, 
a displeasing meal, a pleasing personality, as if pleasantness and un- 
pleasantness were somehow actually attributes of those things. Our 
hypothesis is that the feelings are the subjective aspect of organic 
reactions. Pleasantness and unpleasantness are projected into the 
outer conscious world; they give objects the meaning of pleasant 
or unpleasant. When, to illustrate, one says that the cold wind of 
a dark, rainy day is unpleasant, 'one cannot argue that the unpleas- 
antness actually resides in the environment. Rather, an affective 
reaction is induced by the cold, the wind, the rain; unpleasant feel- 
ing or mood is outwardly referred to the inducing conditions. 


A critical examination of psychological hedonism should include 
a consideration of the relation of pleasant and unpleasant feeling to 
muscular activity. A few experiments bearing upon this topic will 
next be described. 

Unpleasantness in Relation to the Strength of Voluntary 
Movement. In 1905 Storring published a few observations upon 
the relation of unpleasant feeling to voluntary action. He used a 
dynamometer which recorded the maximal extent of finger flexion. 

35 6 


Simple Set 

Muscular Set 


In every trial the subject was given a taste solution just before he 
exerted his maximal pull upon the dynamometer. The taste solu- 
tions ranged in unpleasantness from indifferent to very disagree- 
able. Starring found that at the trials when the subject reported 
the solution as unpleasant the dynamometer registered a stronger 
muscular contraction than when there was affective indifference. 

Furthermore, the more intense 
the unpleasantness, the greater 
was the strength of the pull. The 
subjects were instructed to as- 
sume different types of prepara- 
tory set, but in all cases unpleas- 
ant feeling was associated with 
increased strength. 

Later Rose repeated Storrlng's 
experiment with greater thor- 
oughness. He obtained graphic 
records of the extent and dura- 
tion of finger pull against the 
spring of a dynamometer, and 
also of the reaction time between 
a signal bell and the beginning 
of the movement. Unpleasant- 
ness was evoked by weak and 
concentrated taste solutions of 
salt, vinegar, and both mixed, 
which were given to the subject 
just before his pull on the appa- 
ratus. The intensity of disagree- 
able feeling was reported as 
weak, average, strong, very strong, and intermediate degrees. There 
were 2,493 trials distributed among six subjects. 

Our interest centers in the comparison of muscular strength with 
and without a preliminary or a concomitant unpleasant experience. 
On the basis of graphic records and the subjects' reports, Rose con- 
cluded that sensory unpleasantness was associated with increased 
muscular strength, and further, that the more intense the unpleas- 
antness the stronger was the pull on the dynamometer. The un- 

w M s v.s. 



Ordinates give the percentage of pulls 
upon a dynamometer which indicate in- 
creased strength. Abscissae give the re- 
ported intensity of feeling weak, medium, 
strong, very strong. The four curves are 
for different preparatory sets. 


pleasant tastes also brought about shorter reaction times than did 
the indifferent ones. The preparatory set of the subject had very 
little effect upon these results. Figure 77 shows one of Rose's 

More recently Ernst has extended the work of Storring and Rose 
upon unpleasantness in relation to voluntary movement. His pro- 
cedure was similar to that of Rose except that he used bitter taste 
solutions instead of salty and sour ones. Confirming the previous 
investigations, Ernst found that in the great majority of cases un- 
pleasantness was associated with increased muscular strength and 
with shortened reaction time. The results of these experiments are 
definite enough, but unfortunately the work of all three lacked 
adequate controls. 

Before interpreting the experiments of Storring, Rose, and Ernst 
it is important to consider other studies, using affectively unknown 
stimuli. In 1898 Cleghorn published a study which described the 
reinforcement of voluntary muscular contraction by simple sensory 
stimuli. He used a Mosso ergograph and asked the subjects to con- 
tract the finger muscles rhythmically once every three seconds to 
the stroke of a metronome. 

Three kinds of stimuli were employed: (a) a light flashed into 
the eye, () a sudden sound heard through a stethoscope, (c) an 
induction shock applied to the skin. Graphic records of muscular 
contractions were obtained which also showed time and signal lines. 
Cleghorn found that a stimulus applied just as the muscle began a 
voluntary contraction brought increased height of the curve 
(strength of contraction). This result was announced at about the 
same time in an independent study by Hofbauer. Both investigators 
agreed that the augmentation was particularly noticeable as fatigue 
set in and the contractions were growing smaller. 

In further tests, Cleghorn paid especial attention to the effect of 
stimulation introduced at the beginning of the relaxation phase. 
He found that relaxation was decidedly quicker and more com- 
plete when stimulation was introduced at the beginning of the 
relaxation phase than when no accessory stimuli were used. This 
was true with all three kinds of stimuli, as the following figures, 
taken from the study, show: 




Stimulus at Beginning 
of Relaxation 


of muscular 

Times of muscular 

contraction relaxation 

contraction relaxation 

Light . ... 




0.49 o.i9 
0.47 O.X9 
0.44 0.33 

Sound . . . 


The figures present the average duration In seconds of voluntary 
muscular contraction and relaxation with and without peripheral 
stimulation at the beginning of the relaxation phase. There is a 
decided shortening of the relaxation phase when stimulation occurs 
at the beginning of relaxation. After considering several possible 
hypotheses Cleghorn concluded that the accessory stimulation does 
accelerate relaxation, under these conditions. 

The work of Cleghorn and that of Hofbauer indicate that sensory 
stimulation both strengthens the contraction and speeds up the 
relaxation of voluntary movement. Their work, however, is physio- 
logical and leaves us completely in the dark except for our own 
speculation concerning any pleasant or unpleasant feeling evoked 
by the three kinds of stimuli used. A final interpretation of the 
above group of experiments is not yet possible. The one point upon 
which they agree is that certain sensory stimuli facilitate voluntary 
muscular contraction when given just before or at the beginning of 
the contraction. Cleghorn and Hofbauer have shown that light, 
sound, and electrical stimuli facilitate both the contraction and the 
relaxation phases. Stoning, Rose, and Ernst have shown that cer- 
tain taste stimuli administered just prior to voluntary movement 
are associated with increased muscular strength and quickened re- 
action time. 

This general result is Important from the standpoint of motiva- 
tion. Any stimulus which arouses a reaction is ipso facto a releaser 
of energy. A stimulus excites the receptor cells, and these in turn 
transmit the excitation to the neurons. The neural excitation travels 
and spreads until effector cells respond. The total physiological 


process from stimulation to movement is one of energy transforma- 

But how does unpleasant feeling come into the picture? It is evi- 
dent that the work of Storring, Rose, and Ernst is ambiguous so 
far as any relationship between unpleasant feeling and muscular 
work is concerned. In the first place, their experiments were not 
controlled by the use of pleasant and indifferent taste solutions. In 
the second place, it is known that grief and other unpleasant moods 
temporarily decrease muscular vigor and strength, whereas a pleas- 
ant mood induced by good news is usually invigorating. Unpleasant 
anger, again, is energizing. Hence any generalization as to the 
relationship between affective experience and muscular strength 
must for the present be made with caution. In the third place, the 
physiological studies of Cleghorn and Hofbauer show that a variety 
of sensory stimuli modify muscular contraction. The nature of the 
stimuli was such that unpleasant feeling was probably evoked, but 
feelings were not reported in the experiment. Hence this physio- 
logical work remains ambiguous so far as the present problem is 
concerned. Undoubtedly there is a need for further research upon 
the relationship between muscular strength and affective processes. 

For the present we tentatively accept the view that unpleasant- 
ness aroused by sensory stimulation is associated with increased 
muscular strength. This view fits in with other facts of motivational 
psychology. For example, the persistent stimulations from the tis- 
sues in hunger, thirst, extreme cold, and under other conditions have, 
among others, the following effects: (i) they determine unpleasant 
feeling, and (2) they release energy, thus raising the activity level 
When the stimulations become intense the unpleasantness also 
grows more intense and the activity level rises markedly. These two 
effects unpleasant feeling and energy release in the muscles de- 
pend upon a common neural excitation. Thus they are associated 
but not causally related. 

Pleasant and Unpleasant Feeling in Relation to Organic 
Responses. Investigators have studied the reports of pleasant and 
unpleasant feeling in relation to bodily processes, such as frequency 
and amplitude of pulse, frequency and depth of respiration, blood 
pressure, vasodilation and vasoconstriction (as shown by the volume 



of the finger, arm, brain, or other part), electrical changes at the 
surface of the body ("psychogalvanic reflex"), etc. 

These studies by the "method of expression" have revealed cer- 
tain relationships. For example, unpleasant feeling occurs with 
quickened pulse and pleasant feeling with retarded pulse more fre- 
quently than the reverse. Unpleasantness is felt with decreased arm 
volume (vasoconstriction) and pleasantness with Increased arm 
volume (vasodilation) more frequently than the reverse. 

No one-to-one relationship, no perfect correlation, has been dis- 
covered. In view of this it is probable that pleasant and unpleasant 
feeling depend upon central nervous conditions which have a vari- 
ety of peripheral manifestations, the outer pattern varying with 
inducing circumstances. One contemporary theory places the affec- 
tive center in the thalamus, despite the prevailing view that con- 
scious processes are determined entirely by the cerebrum. 

The question of the peripheral changes associated with pleasant 
and unpleasant feeling was studied by the author In 1921, employ- 
ing a method which depended entirely upon individual observa- 
tion and report. A review of this follows. 

Seven subjects, all psychologists, were given odors, taste-solutions, 
tactual stimulations, and a few chords or discords on tuning-forks. 
The presentations had been selected to evoke affective reactions. 
The Instructions were: 

In this experiment be passive and receptive. Let the experimental 

situation have its full normal effect upon you. 

Report all muscular tendencies and organic sensations in any way 
related to the affective reaction. 

Report whether the experience was pleasant, unpleasant, or In- 
different; and indicate the intensity of the feeling (using, for ex- 
ample, such terms as "very weak," "weak," "moderate," "strong," 
"very strong"). 

There were 340 reports, analysis of which brought to light the 
following relationships : 

In 38 per cent of the reports of felt pleasantness or unpleasant- 
ness the subjects made no mention of muscular or organic sensa- 
tions. The interpretation of this fact, however, is uncertain inasmuch 
as weak peripheral changes might have occurred which the sub- 
jects did not detect and report. 



In the remaining 62 per cent unpleasant feeling, when reported, 
was associated with widespread bodily disturbances. Among the 
responses mentioned in reports of unpleasantness were: reflex with- 
drawal, thrusting the object away to prevent its action, inhibiting 
the reactions of swallowing, breathing or listening, reflex muscular 
twitchings and convulsive muscular contractions, frowning, snarl- 
ing, starting, "moving waves of sensation," nausea, and various 
other bodily reverberations. The more intense the unpleasantness 
the more frequently were such bodily processes mentioned by the 

In contrast to the above, the bodily reactions to pleasing stimuli 
were negative. Reflex responses were not mentioned, and bodily 
reverberations were absent. Felt pleasantness was characterized by 
accepting the situation and passively yielding to it. The characteris- 
tic organic response associated with pleasant feeling, so far as any 
could be found, was relaxation. In itself there is something negative 
about relaxation; it is the letting up of the strain which typically 
is associated with unpleasantness. In other words, unpleasant feeling 
appeared to be associated with tension-producing and pleasant feel- 
ing with tension-releasing processes. Apart from a few cases in 
which the subject actively sniffed or took a deeper breath to get 
more of a pleasant odor, there was no evidence of the traditional 
association between pleasing stimuli and seeking behavior. 

On the strength of the results we questioned the validity of the 
hedonistic doctrine: that one seeks pleasing objects. Corwin then 
raised the objection that the conditions of the experiment were not 
favorable to active seeking movements in the case of pleasing reac- 
tions. He repeated the experiment under changed conditions, intro- 
ducing moving stimuli such that the subject must follow in order 
to retain the smell of an agreeable odor or the sound of pleasing 
music delivered through a receding tube. 

Corwin concluded: "There is no doubt that the most natural 
response to U is a movement of withdrawal. The direct response 
of the organism to P is, as stated above, either relaxation with a 
certain degree of expansion, if the stimulus is weak or stationary; 
or, if the stimulus is intense, and if the source of the P is with- 
drawn, a definite activity of pursuit or of tendencies to pursuit." 

This again raised the question of the relation between pleasant 


feeling and seeking behavior. Consequently we repeated Corwin's 
experiment with slight modifications in the conditions and found, 
in fact, that pleasantness was associated with movements towards 
the stimulus object and unpleasantness with movements away from 
it, more frequently than the reverse. 

The picture was complicated, however, by the fact that affectively 
indifferent objects, such as a watch, drawn slowly away from the 
subject's ear, were also associated with seeking behavior. The "seek- 
ing" movements were slight adjustments of bodily posture to weak 
or receding stimulus objects. They indicate an attentive set for 
observation, and to interpret them as involuntary expressions of 
pleasant feeling is clearly a doubtful procedure. The traditional 
hedonistic doctrine is concerned not so much with simple ap- 
proaches and avoidances as it is with complicated and prolonged 
pleasure-seeking purposive activities. 

Pleasant and Unpleasant Feeling in Relation to Conflict 
of Responses. The neurologist, Herrick, has stated that normal 
activity of the body within physiological limits is intrinsically pleas- 
urable, so far as it comes into consciousness, and so far as it is 
directed toward definite ends. Normal activities, he adds, are not 
satisfying unless they attain or at least approximate some particular 

Herrick describes his neural theory as follows: "The normal dis- 
charge, then, of definitely elaborated nervous circuits resulting in 
free unrestrained activity is pleasurable, in so far as the reaction 
comes into consciousness at all (of course, a large proportion of 
such reactions are strictly reflex and have no conscious significance). 
Conversely, the impediment to such discharge, no matter what the 
occasion, results in a stasis in the nerve centers, the summation of 
stimuli and the development of a situation of unrelieved nervous 
tension which is unpleasant until the tension is relieved by the ap- 
propriate adaptive reaction. . . ." 

In daily life severe mental conflicts are known to be unpleasant 
(see the cases on pp. 487-490), and relief from conflict is typically 

The writer made a preliminary experiment upon the relation be- 
tween felt experience and the conflict of responses. In this work the 
subjects were seated on a table so that both feet could swing freely, 



and a mechanical device was attached to the shoes to record the 
direction and extent of foot movements. In front of a subject were 
four small lamps arranged on a frame at the level of the eyes. Two 
of these lamps were on the right to signal for the right foot to 
move, and two were on the left to signal for the left foot to move. 
Two were remote from the subject to signal for forward movement 
and two were near by to signal 
for backward movement. The 
plan is shown in Fig. 78. 

In an experiment the subject 
seated himself upon the table and 
awaited the signal lights. When 
a light flashed he moved his foot 
as mechanically as possible either 
in a forward or backward direc- 
tion according to the signal. 
Every subject received ten trials 
per day for twelve experimental 
days, by which time the move- 
ments were quite automatic and 

The subjects were told that the 
experiment was concerned with 
the pleasant and unpleasant feel- 
ings associated with simple bod- 
ily movement, and from time 
to time during the habituatkm 
period they were asked to report 
whether pleasantness or unpleas- 
antness was felt at the time of 
their foot and leg movements. To give a more complete affective 
setting the subjects were asked to report their affective reactions to 
odors both before and after the movement series. 

After complete habituation, conflicting signals were introduced 
suddenly and without warning. L i and L 2 were flashed simul- 
taneously and later L 3 and L 4 (see Fig. 78). This was done occa- 
sionally for two days and affective reports taken on all such trials. 

The assumption of the experiment is that a conflict of impulses 

S gives the location of the subject. 
L i is the lamp to signal for back- 
ward movement of left foot; L 2 
signals forward movement of left 
foot. L 3 is the signal to move the 
right foot forward; L 4, to move the 
right foot backward. 


to move should be unpleasant. With one subject and to some extent 
with another of the four, genuine conflict of response was induced 
and the report was of unpleasant feeling whereas the simple reac- 
tions had been reported as indifferent. With three of the subjects 
the conflict called forth smiling, laughter, and amusement which 
was characterized as pleasant. It was as if some joke had been 
played, a surprise given which was novel and amusing. The reac- 
tion in all cases was definitely affective when contrasted with the 
simple responses, but for three subjects it was a pleasant reaction 
instead of the expected unpleasant one. 

The conflicting signals were repeated from time to time for a 
number of days. For a while there continued in some cases the 
inhibition, blocking, conflict, doubt, and strain, reported as un- 
pleasant; and in others the smiling, laughter, and amusement which 
were reported as pleasant or indifferent. With habituation, however, 
these feelings disappeared and the double-light signal was finally 
taken as the signal for no movement. When the subjects had ad- 
justed themselves to the new signal and looked upon it as the sign 
for no movement, the affective response to it was as indifferent as 
that to the accustomed one-light signals. 

The foregoing experiment shows that an unexpected conflicting 
situation calls forth a definitely affective experience. Although we 
supposed that the experimental conflict of impulses would induce 
unpleasantness, we did not anticipate reports of pleasantness as well. 
The explanation of the unexpected result is this: The subjects 
doubtless took the experiment as a game, and the double signals as 
a slip on the experimenter's part, or perhaps as a practical joke. 
Hence there were amusement and smiling at the signal for con- 
flicting movements. Again, in some instances it is likely that the 
pleasantness came from the release of the strain of conflict, this 
release conceivably occurring so quickly and automatically that it 
was not detected as a separate step or phase. 

One other point should be .borne in mind. The conflict in this 
experiment was induced by opposing simple habituated reactions. 
There was nothing vital at stake as with so many conflicts in real 
life. If the subjects' job, health, happiness, or something else of 
importance had depended upon making the correct response, the 
resulting pleasantness might, not have appeared so quickly. Further 


experiments upon conflicting determinations are needed, for the 
present study neither proves nor disproves the theory it was aimed 
to test. It does show, however, that the problem of conflict in rela- 
tion to felt experience is much more complex than we at first as- 
sumed it to be. 



In discussing "mental conditions" the writer does not wish to 
imply that there are two kinds of ultimate reality mental and 
physical All that is meant by the term "mental conditions" is ? con- 
ditions described from the standpoint of individual conscious ex- 

The realization or thwarting of wishes, the receipt of good or bad 
news, the innumerable circumstances of life which affect our happi- 
ness or unhappiness, the events of our experience which make us 
laugh or weep, the countless annoyances and satisfactions of life 
all of these conditions of pleasantness and unpleasantness are com- 
monly described in terms of conscious experience. In the following 
pages some of these conditions of affective experience will be con- 
sidered. Although the examples form an apparently disconnected 
series, they have one thing in common they deal with pleasant 
and unpleasant experience in relation to conditions commonly 
called "mental" as distinct from those that are physical 

Fulfilment and Thwarting of Wishes in Relation to Pleas- 
ant and Unpleasant Feeling. The relationship of pleasantness 
and unpleasantness to wish fulfilment is illustrated by the following 
incident which occurred in the psychological laboratory at the Uni- 
versity of Minnesota. 

In making preparations for an experiment upon affective reac- 
tions it was necessary to select from the laboratory supply a small 
number of odors, some of which would be pleasant and others un- 
pleasant to the subjects. I wanted to avoid indifferent smells and 
to find those evoking a distinct and intense affective reaction. 1 
whiffed the odors one at a time more or less passively, and when 
one was found that displeased me I was immediately pleased 
because it was that kind of an odor. With the very disagreeable 
odors there was an added element of amusement at the thought 



that such an odor would be extremely unpleasant to the subjects 
of the experiment. The discovery of one or two pleasant perfumes 
also pleased me. 

The experience was of a type which some would describe as a 
"mixed feeling": yet pleasing and displeasing affective experiences 
did not occur simultaneously. When I felt amused, the experience 
was wholly pleasant even though I was aware, at the time, of an 
odor which carried the meaning of "something unpleasant." It was 
an example of wish fulfilment and amusement evoking pleasant 
feeling despite the smelling of an odor which under other condi- 
tions would have aroused unpleasantness. 

Conversely, it is common knowledge that the thwarting of one's 
wishes is typically unpleasant. This can readily be inferred from 
the behavior of children. For example, when Billie is all set to go 
to the circus and then prevented from carrying out his plan un- 
pleasant feeling is clearly expressed. 

A good illustration of the relation between felt experiences and 
wish fulfilment is found in the work of R. Katz. The following 
extended account is quoted from Beebe-Center's book, The Psy- 
chology of Pleasantness and Unpleasantness. 

The best data on the relation of hedonic tone to wishes aroused 
under natural conditions are to be found, in my opinion, in R. Katz's 
study of loss of appetite in children. Around his fourth year, Julius, 
one of Mrs. Katz's children, began to refuse foodstuffs of all sorts, 
and consequently started to lose weight. Convinced from the results 
of a physical examination that the basis for this loss of appetite 
was primarily psychological, Mrs. Katz adopted the plan of letting 
the child order his own meals beforehand, impressing upon him 
that a meal which had been ordered must naturally be eaten. This 
procedure was completely successful Whatever the child had or- 
dered, he would eat without the slightest sign of loss of appetite. 
The first day, he ordered for his main meal potatoes, soup, meat, 
carrots, vanilla dessert with vanilla sauce. His meal was prepared 
accordingly, care being taken that the amounts of each food be not 
too large in order to facilitate the accomplishment of his undertak- 
ing. He ate everything without the slightest resistance. The next 
day he ordered the same meal over again, and again ate it without 
sign of lack of appetite. On the third day, he ordered the same meal 
except that vanilla sauce was changed to chocolate sauce, and he 


ate tie entire meal with apparent enjoyment. ... On the fourth 
day he ordered meat, potatoes, carrots, semolina and ice cream with 
vanilla sauce and again ate everything. And so, day after day, the 
ordered meal was consumed without any sign of rejection. Clearly 
these results suggest that by making the child order his own meal 
there was established in him a wish tending towards the eating of 
this meal, and that this wish manifested itself in making the child 
not only eat, but eat with relish the very same foodstuffs which 
previously he had rejected. 

The same suggestion arises from the success of a slightly different 
procedure used by Mrs. Katz to overcome temporary losses of ap- 
petite. In certain cases her children would unexpectedly refuse to 
eat the meal being placed before them. Clearly the former proce- 
dure was of no avail; the problem required solution without delay. 
In such cases the children were told that they could prepare any 
dish they cared to from the foodstuffs on the table or from those 
in the kitchen, or eat these foodstuffs in any sequence that appealed 
to them. This procedure was entirely successful in that it made the 
children eat a meal with apparent relish, even though many of the 
combinations of foods and sequences of foods seemed to the father 
and mother to be anything but palatable. A few reports on such 
individual meals follow: "J une 16, 1927, lunch. Chocolate and lard 
are cut up and put in a plate of bean soup. This is a mixture the 
very appearance of which is unpleasant to us adults, and which we 
would never have been able to eat. Julius, however, eats the mix- 
ture with the greatest relish and it agrees with him perfectly. . . . 
September 17, 1927, supper. Here it is the order of the foodstuffs 
which is particularly striking, i. Meat and bread with butter; 2. 
bread with honey; 3. ice [ice cream?]; 4. honey eaten with a spoon 
directly from the plate; 5. meat eaten with the hand; 6. honey with 
a spoon; and 7. as a conclusion, meat eaten by hand. . . . October 
4, 1927, supper. Potatoes, sauce made of fat and onions fried brown, 
and sugar, all mixed together in a plate and eaten with a spoon. 
This mixture is supposed to have been especially delicious." It is 
obvious that these data do not prove a specific relationship between 
hedonic tone and the wishes of every-day life. They do make it 
likely, however, that patient observation of children or of adults, 
if they could be kept ignorant of the problem at issue would show 
that the pleasantness of one and the same object or activity is as a 
rule greater when a wish has been aroused for it than otherwise. 



Good and Bad News. Apart from the thwarting and fulfil- 
ment of wishes there are other mental conditions which call out 
felt experience. The news of the death of a loved one, the loss of 
money, disappointment in love, an insulting remark or slur which 
lowers self-esteem these are a few of the conditions which evoke 
unhappiness. On the other hand, the receipt of good news, success 
in an undertaking, sudden acquisition of money, and unexpected 
professional recognition are some of the conditions which bring 
happiness. The feelings induced in these ways are often of the 
greatest intensity and of long duration. 

An unusual combination of circumstances gave the Italian physi- 
ologist, Mosso, an opportunity to observe, in himself, the effect of 
good news upon muscular strength. His experience has been de- 
scribed by Beebe-Center as follows: 

In 1889, Mosso, then at the University of Turin, was training 
himself in the use of the ergograph. In the previous year he had 
been given a scholarship which had enabled him to work with 
Schmiedeberg at the University of Strassburg, but at the close of 
the year he had been obliged to return to Turin, and although he 
was very anxious to get back to Strassburg, could not see his way 
clear to do so. One morning, after completing around 9 A.M. a 
session at the ergograph in which, lifting a 5 kg. weight with his 
finger until he could no longer move the weight, he had made 14 
lifting movements and produced work to the extent of 1.500 kilo- 
grammeters the usual amount for him he was suddenly informed 
at 10 A.M. by his brother, a professor at the University of Turin, 
that he could return to Strassburg and Schmiedeberg. This news 
created in him a strong emotion. At 10.50, he carried out the second 
session of the day at the ergograph under the same conditions as 
earlier. This time he was able to make 21 lifting movements and 
to produce 2.555 kEogrammeters of work. He then went home to 
tell the good news to his parents and found there a letter informing 
him officially that he was to be sent to Strassburg. He writes feel- 
ingly: "It was a great joy that I experienced that day." At 12.50, 
having returned to the laboratory, he carried out a third session at 
the ergograph. This time he was able to make 30 finger movements 
and to produce 4.320 kilogrammeters of work. Mosso concluded as 
follows: "It follows from this experience, that a strong and agree- 
able emotion influences the activity of the muscles and makes them 


develop twice and three times the normal energy. I did not continue 
the experiment because the state of mind in which I found myself 
did not allow me to busy myself longer with ergographic curves." 

This result is of interest because it shows that one of the effects 
of good news and joy was to increase muscular strength. Contrari- 
wise, there is some clinical evidence to show that sorrow is asso- 
ciated with a weakened condition of the muscles; that patients in 
a depressed mood are relatively weak, whereas those in a joyful 
mood are relatively strong. 

Happiness and Unhappiness. The ethical hedonist regards 
the pursuit of happiness as the most important human quest. Cer- 
tainly it matters a great deal to every one of us whether we are 
in a happy or an unhappy mood. 

To study happiness and unhappiness Goodwin Watson prepared 
a self-rating scale and submitted it to 388 graduate students in edu- 
cation. The test contained six parts, briefly described as follows: 

1. In the first part the subject was instructed to rate his own 
general happiness, comparing himself with other persons of the 
same age and sex. Five steps were specified on a line extending 
from "Among the most miserable of all" to "Among the happiest 
of all." In this part the subject was further instructed to indicate 
where his friends would probably rate him. 

2. In the second part a series of descriptive phrases was pre- 
sented and the subject requested to indicate which of the ten most 
nearly fitted himself. The first two of these descriptions are: 

(a) Finding life rather disappointing and disillusioning, com- 
fortable in many ways, moderately successful, but far from realizing 
the hopes of youth. 

(b) Cheerful, gay spirits most of the time. Occasionally bothered 
by something but can usually laugh it off. 

3. Part three required the subject to write in his own words a 
sentence or two descriptive of his general happiness in life. 

4. In the fourth part a list of descriptive words and phrases was 
provided; the instruction was to check every term which applied 
to the subject. A few samples are: 

Enthusiastic Morbid Disappointed 

Distressed Cheerful Prosperous 


5. The next part required the subject to rate his happiness in 
each of six areas of life. The rating in each case was done by plac- 
ing a vertical line across a horizontal which indicated the extremes 
and average. These six areas are: health; vocation; love and mar- 
riage; friends; hobby interests; religion. 

6. Finally, the subject was asked to rate his happiness or unhap- 
piness at various stages of his life: early childhood; later childhood; 
high-school period; later adolescence. 

In addition to the rating blank, every subject filled out an ex- 
tensive questionnaire calling for detailed information on many 
points. The detailed results from the self -rating blanks and the ques- 
tionnaire were analyzed thoroughly and summarized. Instead of go- 
ing into the details of the analysis we will simply quote a series 
of hypotheses which were made by Watson on the basis of his 

1. Intelligence has no relation to happiness. 

2. Failure in love is a major cause of unhappiness. 

3. Enjoyment of, and success in, work is a major factor in happi- 

4. Good health in childhood is the foundation for happiness. 

5. Popularity matters. 

6. School marks do not matter. 

7. Success in dealing with people is fundamental to happiness. 

8. Music and poetry tend to be refuges for the unhappy. 

9. Religion, of the modern type, is not merely an escape for the 

10. Graduate students of education are, on the whole, fairly well 
satisfied with life. 

11. General level of happiness among such adults can be measured 
with adequate reliability by a single check on one graphic scale. 

12. The unhappy believe they give an impression of greater hap- 
piness than they feel 

13. Hobbies are not so important for life satisfaction as is some- 
times supposed. 

14. Youth is not the golden era of happiness; neither is age. 

15. Only children are as likely, perhaps more likely, to be happy 
as are children in large families. 

16. The comparative wealth of parents does not affect the happi- 
ness of children. 


17. Educated parents do not raise happier children. 

18. Quarrelsome parents, divorced, seem to hurt a child's happi- 
ness less than the same parents remaining together. 

19. Mother careers do not make for unhappiness in children. 

20. More or less knowledge of academic subject-matter does not 
influence happiness. 

21. Participation in athletics is not significant for or against later 

22. Parents over forty at the time of the child's birth are as likely 
as any to raise happy children. 

23. Ability at dancing, cards, athletics, writing, music, or paint- 
ing is unrelated to happiness. 

24. "Radicals" are not the fundamentally unhappy. 

25. A history of crushes does not necessarily indicate unhappiness. 

26. A sex education, now regarded by educated adults as "wise," 
did not improve chances for happiness. 

27. Those who look forward to living at age sixty, alone or with 
a sister, are predominantly unhappy. 

28. The married are happier than the unmarried. 

29. Men believe themselves happier than women believe them- 
selves to be. 

30. Success in dramatics is more indicative of happiness than is 
success in any other form of extra-curricular activity. 

31. Blessed are those who are elected to many offices. 

32. Love of nature goes with greater happiness. 

33. The essentials of happiness for most people are among the 
stable elements of life (friends, work, nature) not among the stimu- 
lants (alcohol, clubs, churches, dancing, cards, automobiles, or arts). 

34. Most people crave adventure rather than serenity. 

35. Creative work with the hands is not fundamental to happi- 

36. Fears, sensitiveness, shyness, are rightly regarded as major 
factors in unhappiness. 

37. Happiness is associated with serious, deliberate, responsible, 
earnest, hard-working living, rather than with impulsive, light, 
amusing, dilettanteism. 

38. The proportion of error in these statements is uncertain, but 

These hypotheses indicate the need for further research upon the 
conditions of happiness and unhappiness. 


Under What Conditions Do We Laugh and Weep? 
Many theories have been proposed to account for laughing and 
weeping, but no one of them is wholly satisfactory. In the case of the 
funny story there is always (or should be!) some point, i.e., an in- 
cident which induces a sudden disturbance of mental equilibrium. 
A well-told joke builds up a tension and then releases it suddenly 
in an unexpected manner. Even to the small child a sudden shift 
of conditions, as in the game of peek-a-boo, commonly evokes smil- 
ing or laughing. 

Not every sudden shift of mental equilibrium, however, induces 
laughter. The shift must be a happy one rather than one which 
brings a sense of danger or defeat. To cause laughter, the point of a 
joke must elevate one's self-esteem, or give one a sense of belonging 
to the social group, or imaginatively gratify some wish, or suggest 
some other desirable result. Freud regards laughter as the release of 
a repressed complex; thus, in the sex-joke he states that it is the re- 
lease of inhibition that causes laughter. 

Weeping, on the other hand, results from wholly different men- 
tal conditions. Lund studied the situations which induce weeping. 
He analyzed the incidents occurring in motion-picture plays at the 
moments when people in the audience became lacrimose; he noted, 
too, the remarks made at funerals which induced tegrs. As a result 
he came to the view that weeping occurs when some redeeming fea- 
ture in an otherwise bad situation is stressed, something happy or 
comforting in the face of trouble. When the ministejr, speaking of 
the one departed, says, "He was a wonderfpl father, a noble citizen, 
etc.," the tears begin to flow. 

Lund's view makes it appear that weeping is an emotion of con- 
flict or maladjustment, Anything which serves to accentuate the 
maladjustment or conflict, such as stressing the redeeming featpre, 
may cause weeping or sobbing. 

Mental Organization as a Condition of the Affective 
Judgment. In experiments, as well as in daily life, a person can 
estimate with moderate selfcconsistency the degree of pleasantness 
or unpleasantness evoked by a given stimulation. One way of demon- 
strating this is by the use pf a scale of values. 

In one of the author's experiments, thirty-two smell-substances 
were presented to subjects under controlled laboratory conditions. 



The instructions, which are reproduced below, called not only for 
an immediate report of pleasantness or unpleasantness but also for 
an estimate of the degree, or intensity, of feeling evoked. 

Instructions: "The experimenter will place beneath your nostrils a 
bottle of odorous substance. Take three deep breaths every time an 
odor is presented. 

"Immediately and without reflection indicate how the experience 
felt. If your attitude was one of indifference, indicate by o. If pleasure 
was experienced, indicate by +, and if displeasure was experienced, 
indicate by . Study carefully the scale of values on the accompany- 
ing sheet so that you may give the degree of feeling by one of these 

On a separate sheet the following scale of values was presented: 

+5 very great pleasure 
+4 great pleasure 
+3 pleasure 
+2 slight pleasure 
+i very slight pleasure 

o indifference 
i very slight displeasure 
2 slight displeasure 
3 displeasure 
4 great displeasure 
5 very great displeasure 

The results for seventeen adult subjects (several more for some 
of the odors) showed a considerable degree of consistency in making 
affective judgments. The subjects all agreed in reporting certain of 
the odors wholly on the negative (unpleasant) side and certain others 
wholly on the positive (pleasant) side of the scale; but most of the 
odors were placed in between, with some positive and some negative 
judgments. This appears in the table of distributions of judgments 
for eight typical stimuli on p. 374. 

The table presents the most pleasant and the most unpleasant 
odor; every one of the thirty-two odors was located somewhere 
within this series of judgment distributions. Incidentally, some odors 
give a wide range of judgments over the scale of values ; others are 
more narrowly restricted. In this respect compare phenyl ethyl al- 
cohol and the empty bottle which was used as a control. 




Frequency of Judgment for Points 

on the Scale of Values 
-5 ~4 -3 -2- - 1 + 1 +^ +3 +4 +5 

Di-#-butyl amine .... 

-Heptoic acid 


Phenyl ethyl alcohol. 

Empty bottle 




5 5 5 

z 7 4 3 i 
4 3 z 3 4 i 
izz4zzz3 i 
i z iz 3 

z i 7 3 4 z 
1 5 5 4 2. 

In order to determine the constancy of these judgments for the in- 
dividual from day to day, the entire series was presented to two 
subjects for twelve successive experimental days. The conditions 
were the same as in the above experiment except that a different 
haphazard order of presentation was used every day. Two typical 
odors and the control (empty bottle) have been selected to illustrate 
the extent of variability in affective judgment. It will be noted that 
the judgments of an individual are restricted to a given region of 
the scale of values. 


Judgments on Successive Days 


Empty bottle 

-i -3 -z -3 -3 -3 -3 -4 -z -3 -3 -3 
0+1+1+1+1+1+1+3 +3 o+z+3 
z o o z o o z i o o i o 


w-Caproic acid 
Empty bottle 

+4+5+5 +4 +4 +3+4+4+^+5+5 +5 
-3 -4 -5 -4 -4 -5 -4 ~4 ~5 -3 ~5 -3 
00030000 i o o o 

These results indicate that a presentation is judged quite consist- 
ently pleasant, unpleasant, or indifferent when it is presented re- 
peatedly to the same subject. Inasmuch as the sequence of odors 
was changed from day to day it is probable that some of the varia- 
tions in degree of pleasantness and unpleasantness shown in the judg- 



ments were dependent upon the contrasts between successive affective 
experiences (pp. 335-337)- 

An important source of variation, however, lies in the scale-of- 
values method itself. This procedure requires the subject to appre- 
hend the scale as a whole at the same time that he is estimating 
intensities of all affective experiences. This is a complex process. 
Partially obscuring the physiological conditions which determine the 
kind and degree of affective reaction are the psychological conditions 
which determine judgment. 

When a balanced scale of values is employed certain of its distinc- 
tive points stand out in the mind of the subject and these are used 
more frequently than are the intermediate points. This fact is well 
brought out in a study of the scale-of-values method by Conklin, 
in which a group of 1,699 sc hool children were asked to judge the 
pleasantness or unpleasantness of a variety of actions; such as: "to 
do ridiculous initiation stunts in public/ 5 "to stand by some principle 
you believe in, even though everybody laughs at you." 

Conklin used a value scale of thirteen points. In looking over the 
results one is impressed immediately by the relatively high frequency 
with which judgments were placed at certain distinguishing points 
on the scale, especially at numbers i, 4, 7, 10, and 13. The following 
gives the total frequencies of judgments for the various scale points: 

1 Greatest possible pleasure 565 

2 Very, very great pleasure 359 

3 Very great pleasure 530 

4 Great pleasure 1,025 

5 More than a little .pleasure 633 

6 Just the slightest pleasure 785 

7 Neutral, neither 1,196 

8 Just the slightest displeasure 851 

9 More than a little displeasure 779 

10 Great displeasure 1,232 

11 Very great displeasure 581 

12 Very, very great displeasure 479 

13 Greatest possible displeasure 1,179 

This decided (though usually unconscious) predilection for cer- 
tain points on the scale of values reminds one of Coover's well- 



known study in which preferences for round numbers were clearly 
demonstrated. He found, for example, that, in the twelfth and thir- 
teenth United States census reports, the figures indicate that persons 
give their ages most frequently in multiples of five and ten years. He 
also brought out the fact that when students' grades are awarded on 
a percentile basis the teachers exhibit the same prejudice in favor of 
multiples of five and ten. Further, Coover found that judges in de- 
termining criminal sentences have a distinct preference for round 
numbers when the sentence is in years, and for quarters of a year 
when the sentence is in months. Again, in estimations of the magni- 
tude of stars, a bias in favor of round numbers is manifest; one bit 
of evidence gives 1,239 stars of the 6.5th magnitude and only 159 
of the 6.6th. Similar number preferences in guessing and in other 
uses of figures can readily be demonstrated. 

There is no doubt that this predilection for certain points on a 
balanced scale is one factor which complicates the results of all ex- 
periments relying upon the scale-of-values method. A judgment of 
affective intensity depends, to be sure, upon the affective reaction 
itself, but it depends, too, upon one's understanding and grasp of the 
scale, upon whatever preference one may have for certain points on 
the scale, and probably upon other factors. 

Annoyances. No study of the mental conditions of pleasant 
and unpleasant feeling would be complete without reference to 
Cason's interesting study of annoyances. The method in this thor- 
ough investigation was simply to collect and tabulate the objects, 
events, and situations recalled by the subjects as having been an- 

Cason collected 21,000 specimens of annoyances (including dupli- 
cate examples) from 659 subjects representing practically all ages, 
and all degrees of intelligence, wealth, social position, physical char- 
acteristics, and other qualifications. Sample annoyances taken at ran- 
dom from the collection by Cason are: 

A person in an automobile I am driving telling me how to drive. 
To hear a person chewing gum loudly* 
To see a person's nose running. 
A person coughing in my face. 

A person telling me to do something when I am just about to 
do it. 



A person crowding in front of me instead of waiting his turn when 
I am waiting in line. 

A person bragging about himself. 

A person continually talking about his illnesses. 

To see an intoxicated man. 

An effeminate man. 

To hear a person sucking his teeth. 

To hear a person reading the titles aloud during a moving-picture 

To be pushed when in a crowd. 

A person looking over my shoulder and reading the book or news- 
paper I am reading. 

A person hinting at a sex subject and using words and expres- 
sions that have a double meaning. 

To hear a grown person talk baby talk. 

A person in conversation with me not paying attention to what I 
am saying. 

To see or hear an animal being cruelly treated by a person. 

To have to wait for a person who is late for an engagement. 

A person continually complaining about something. 


To hear the continual blowing of an automobile horn. 

To find some dirt in the food that I am eating. 

To see lack of neatness in dress. 

The odor of a bad breath. 

To see excessive cosmetics on a woman. 

To see food on a person's face near his mouth. 

The odorous condition of another person's body. 

The annoyances for the total group were carefully classified and 
tabulated. Cason writes: "57% of all of the annoyances, including 
duplicates, were concerned with human behavior, 16% with non- 
human things and activities (exclusive of clothes), 12% with clothes 
and manner of dress, 10% with alterable physical characteristics of 
people, and 5% with persisting physical characteristics of people. 
People are mainly annoyed by the behavior of other people. Clothes 
are more important in this respect than the alterable physical char- 
acteristics of people. It is also significant that 28% of the annoyances 
are concerned with non-human things and activities, whereas only 
5% have to do with persisting physical characteristics of people." 


Of course there are numerous and marked Individual differences as 
to what was reported as annoying. 

Cason's study stresses the importance of social factors behavior 
of others, clothes and dress of others, characteristics of people in 
determining annoyances. 


Positive and negative reactions are made to a single object, a single 
situation, or to one aspect of the world at a time. Preference in its 
simplest form implies an active discrimination between at least two 
items, along with acceptance of one and rejection of the other. When 
a rat is given opportunity to express preference between two foods 
he may, for a long series of trials, accept the first food that chance 
brings under his nose with little or no regard for its quality, failing 
completely to make any preferential discrimination. Gradually, with 
repeated discriminations, the same animal comes to show a clear and 
consistent preference for one of these foods. The rat cannot be 
forced to discriminate preferentially by any method known to the 
writer; sometimes he does and sometimes he does not express a pref- 
erence between two foods (pp. 109-113). 

In animal work the basic fact of preference means that A is taken 
instead of B, or before 5, with great consistency and regularity. A 
single test is not enough to reveal preferential discrimination; a 
whole series of trials is necessary. 

In studying preference with animals the experimenter must base 
his work upon the fundamental drives, such as hunger, thirst, sexual 
urge. The presentation of geometrical forms, colors, tones, and other 
biologically indifferent material does not lead an animal to make 
preferential discriminations, unless such materials be used to sym- 
bolize biologically important goals, such as food or water. With 
symbolic rewards discrimination may be learned; but in this case 
the preference is between the goals symbolized rather than the sym- 
bols themselves. The latter serve only as cues to reaction. 

In human experiments upon preference the subject is given verbal 
instructions; he is asked, for example, "Which of these two musical 
chords do you prefer?" or "Which of these pictures do you like 
better?" The instruction in the laboratory situation gives the subject 
a determination, a set; he attempts to discriminate and to express 


a preference. Of the various methods which have been employed 
in preference tests with man, the more important are here described: 

1. The method of paired comparisons. With this method two col- 
ors, forms, tones, musical chords, odors, photographs, or other ma- 
terials are presented to the subject simultaneously or in immediate 
succession for a preferential judgment. The instructions to the sub- 
ject and the technique of presenting materials are, of course, care- 
fully controlled. The subject's task is merely to indicate which of the 
pair is preferred. The experimental series is so planned that each 
member is compared with every other member. In computing re- 
sults the number of preferences for every unit of the series is deter- 
mined, the judgment "equal" being counted as l / 2 of a preference for 
each unit of the pair. A curve of relative preference may be plotted 
from the data, for study. 

2. The scale-of-values method. The subject is given a prearranged 
scale of affective values ranging from very pleasant through indif- 
ferent to very unpleasant. Materials such as those listed above in 
method i are presented one at a time for judgment, and the subject 
is instructed to evaluate them by reference to the categories of the 
scale. The method was discussed in the foregoing section upon men- 
tal organization as a condition of the affective judgment (p. 372). 

3. The order-of-merit method. The materials for preferential judg- 
ment are spread out on a table or presented successively. The sub- 
ject's task is to rank them in order from the most preferred to the 
least liked. 

4. The method of choice. With this method a group of materials 
are presented collectively, the subject being instructed to select the 
one most preferred. From the materials remaining after the first 
choice he is asked again to select the most preferred, and so on. 

Each of these methods gives an order of relative preference for the 
materials presented. It is well to be acquainted with the preference 
methods, not only because of their usefulness in psychological re- 
search but also because they are of practical value in everyday life, 
e.g., in selecting the most preferred photographic proof, in judging 
the entries in a contest, in evaluating advertisements or almost any 
material, in choosing a name for the baby. If properly understood 
and used, these methods are distinctly superior to the desultory 
means of determining preference commonly employed in daily life* 



Preferential Discrimination and Affective Reaction, 
From the standpoint of the history of psychology one of the main 
sQiirces of confusion within affective psychology has been the failure 
of psychologists to discriminate clearly between the problems of pref- 
erential discrimination, on the one hand, and the problems of felt 
experience, on the other. The preference methods have been placed 
in the textbooks in the context of affective psychology, despite the 
fact that they are wholly ambiguous regarding the existence and 
nature of the subject's felt experience at the time he makes a pref- 
erential discrimination. One cannot assume that the preferred of two 
objects necessarily brings, a pleasant affective reaction, nor that the 
unpreferred object evokes unpleasantness at the time the preferen- 
tial discrimination is being made or under other circumstances. In 
studies with animals the question of whether a rat feels pleased when 
making a preferential discrimination does not arise; it can well be 
left to the metaphysician. 

The result of every preferential discrimination is determined by 
opposed motivating factors. It is a process of choice. There is no 
denying the fact that with certain simple and strongly affective pres- 
entations, such as two odors or two cutaneous stimulations, the af- 
fective reactions often do play the deciding role in the choice. A 
preference may be expressed immediately: "A is pleasing, B is dis- 
pleasing, I prefer A" or "C is less displeasing than D, I prefer C." 
In these and similar cases the affective reactions may be so distinct 
and intense that a preference is revealed without delay. The subject 
is more or less passive; one or more affective reactions have their 
way with him and determine preference. But, as noted above, one 
cannot argue conversely that a preferential discrimination is evidence 
of felt pleasantness or unpleasantness. With weakly affective presen- 
tations the preferences do not arise spontaneously; a choice has to be 
actively made. The person making the choice considers the alterna- 
tives and deliberates "This aspect is favorable and that unfavora- 
ble; this is liked, that disliked." Finally a decision is made A is 
preferred to B. The processes of deliberation and choice-making are 
especially well marked in such complex tasks as deciding the rela- 
tive merits of works of art, evaluating personalities, choosing a place 
to go for the summer vacation. The making of that sort of deliberate 
choice is far removed from those simple preferential discriminations 


which are, in fact, closely associated with affective reactions, but there 
are all gradations from the preferential discriminations which are 
determined by the immediate affective reactions to those which in- 
volve prolonged and elaborate deliberation. It is difficult to draw a 
hard and fast line of demarkation. 

Changes in Preference with Age. Some likes and dislikes 
are relatively stable apart from the age and experience of the sub- 
ject (pp. 345-348). Others are especially likely to change with 
growth, education, or contact with propaganda. One's likes and 
dislikes for architectural styles, musical forms, costume designs, 
paintings, and statues are especially subject to modification with 

Writing about color preference in relation to age, Beebe-Center, 
after a review of the extensive literature on the subject, summarizes 
it as follows: "In the first half-year, preference depends only upon 
saturation and brilliance: chromatic colors are preferred to greys, but 
between different chromatic colors preference is a matter of bril- 
liance, not of hue (the more brilliant being preferred). In the^ sec- 
ond half-year, hue becomes a factor in color-preference, the warm 
colors (red, yellow and orange) being preferred to the cold ones 
(blue and green). From the third to the fifteenth year, preference 
for warm colors over cold ones gradually disappears, so that by 
adolescence either cold colors are actually preferred to warm ones, 
or the distinction between warm and cold colors ceases to be a factor 
in preference." 

The preference for musical intervals also changes with age. 
Young children like the minor second and the major seventh, 
Whereas adults generally dislike these intervals. Beebe-Center has 
suggested that children probably compare musical discords with all 
the sounds in their recent experience, including the most unpleasant 
noises, so that all musical tones are relatively the more pleasant; 
whereas adults and musically gifted children compare musical in- 
tervals with discords, and since the discords are the least pleasant they 
tend to be judged absolutely as unpleasant. As early as the sixth or 
seventh year the child's preferential order for musical intervals is 
similar to that for adults. The similarity is more marked with musi- 
cally trained children than with those who are musically untrained. 
An interesting sidelight on the topic is furnished by the history of 


music, which records very gradual developments towards the pref- 
erential use o certain intervals, such as thirds and seconds. This fact 
indicates that training and convention play their parts in the deter- 
mining of relative preference for certain musical intervals. 


At the start of this chapter we discussed the traditional doctrine 
of psychological hedonism, which has long been considered as a 
general theory of motivation. Our reasons for rejecting hedonistic 
explanations of behavior may be stated briefly as follows. 

In the first place, any theory which limits the behavioral counter- 
part of pleasant and unpleasant feeling to movements of pursuit and 
avoidance is too narrow. These feelings are associated not only with 
positive and negative behavior but also with a host of other ex- 
pressive movements, such as vocal outcries, vasomotor changes, ran- 
dom movements, changes in glandular secretion, erection of the 
hairs, muscular strain or relaxation. When all the peripheral mani- 
festations of feeling are examined no single instance of perfect cor- 
relation is found to exist between affective experience and bodily 
expression. Pleasantness is just as likely to be expressed by relaxation 
as it is by active pursuit; unpleasantness may be indicated by unco- 
ordinated random movements as well as by active avoidance. 

A second difficulty with the hedonistic doctrine lies in the tele- 
ological nature of the conceptions of seeking and avoiding. Many 
times there is no difficulty in distinguishing seeking from avoiding, 
but sometimes both interpretations are possible. The man avoids 
the bear in the woods to sec\ a safe spot. The drowning rat is seep- 
ing the air and avoiding the water. In such cases the individual may 
or may not be clearly aware of his goal, but when viewed objectively 
one cannot be sure of the end. 

A third difficulty with the hedonistic theory is that seeding be- 
havior is most typically associated with unpleasantness. A hungry 
man seeks food; a desperately poor worker seeks money; a sub- 
merged diver seeks the air. In all such examples the motivating 
factor is the source of unpleasantness. Some irritant, need, goal set, 
or drive stimulus motivates behavior. Typically the motivating fac- 
tor in seeding behavior is not the pursuit of pleasant feeling. In 
fact, it has been pointed out as a hedonistic paradox that the pursuit 


of pleasant feeling as suck fails to produce pleasantness. Pleasantness 
is generally a by-product of activity. 

When a mother rushes into the burning house to rescue her child 
it is hardly the pursuit of happiness and the avoidance of unhappi- 
ness which motivates her. Her nervous structure as modified by past 
experience has given a determination which, in the excitement of 
the situation, forces her into the fire. Considerations of pleasantness 
and unpleasantness scarcely enter the picture at the moment. 

Factual Hedonism, In the latter half of the present chapter 
we described some experiments which bear upon the problem of 
pleasant and unpleasant feeling in relation to motivation. Through- 
out this discussion we held to a factual, or process, point of view. 
That is to say, we considered pleasantness and unpleasantness as 
conscious processes existing within individual experience. We ex- 
amined their relation to stimulating objects, to muscular activity, 
to mental conditions, and finally to preferential discriminations. In 
no case did we regard pleasant and unpleasant feeling as a causal 
factor in behavior. 

One group of experiments revealed that pleasantness as a fact is 
more frequently associated with seeking or maintaining behavior 
than with avoidance, and that unpleasantness is very often associated 
with escape and avoiding reactions. This experimental result con- 
firms the common hedonistic theory. In daily life we do, in fact, 
seek to establish or retain those conditions which favor pleasant 
feeling. We lean forward to get another whiff of the fragrant rose; 
we go to the movie just for fun; we walk for pleasure to the park 
where there are green trees and spraying fountains. We also avoid 
any unpleasant or annoying object. 

We can admit that in general unpleasantness is associated with 
avoidance and pleasantness with pursuit as a fact without accepting 
psychological hedonism as a motivational theory. This factual, em- 
pirical envisagement of hedonism we will call factual hedonism. Fac- 
tual hedonism implies no theory as to the determination of conduct, 
but is only the assertion of the demonstrable fact that unpleasantness 
is associated with avoidance whereas pleasantness is associated with 
the attainment of a goal. 

On the side of interpretation we regard pleasantness and unpleas- 
antness as individual experiences which reflect the dynamic interplay 



of motivating processes. When there is conflict unpleasantness is felt, 
and when there is release of conflict or a solution of some difficulty 
pleasantness appears. If a wish is thwarted, there is unpleasantness; 
if realized, pleasantness. If good news is received, i.e., news satisfying 
some desire, there is pleasantness; if bad news, unpleasantness. What- 
ever injures the tissues, or increases mental tension, or leads to fail- 
ure and maladjustment, induces unpleasantness. Whatever satisfies 
a tissue need, releases tension, brings success and adjustment, evokes 
pleasantness. Pleasantness and unpleasantness are thus the manifesta- 
tions within conscious experience of the dynamic interplay of mo- 
tivating factors. They are the subjective signs of conflict, release, over- 
stimulation, and other conditions existing within the physical mind.* 


The references listed below are, with one or two exceptions, limited to the works 
cited in the present chapter. For general orientation in affective psychology the 
student is referred to Beebe-Center (reference 24). For historical research in the 
field Titchener (reference 28) should be consulted. 

Hedonism and interests 

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2. BENTHAM, J. An introduction to the principles of morals and legislation. Oxford: 

Clarendon Press, 1879. Pp. xxxv 4- 378. 

3. BUHLER, K. Displeasure and pleasure in relation to activity. Chap. 14 in C. 

MURCHISON'S, Feelings and emotions, the Wittenberg symposium (ed. by M. L. 
REYMERT), Worcester, Mass.: Clark Univ. Press, 1928. Pp. xvi + 454, 

4. FREUD, S. Beyond the pleasure principle. Trans. C. J. M. HUBBACK. London 

and Vienna: International Psycho-analytical Press, 1932. Pp. xiii + 90. 

5. FRYER, D. The measurement of interests, in relation to human adjustment. 

New York: Holt, 1931. Pp. xxxvi + 488. 

6. LEHMAN, H. C., and WITTY, P. A. A study of vocational attitudes in relation 

to pubescence. Amer. /. Psychol., 1931, 43, 93-101. 

7. STRONG, E. K. Change of interests with age. Stanford Univ. Press, 1931. Pp. 

xix + 235. 

8. TROLAND, L. T. The fundamentals of human motivation. New York: D. van 

Nostrand, 1928. Pp. xiv + 521. Chaps. 16 and 17. 

9. TROLAND, L. T. Motivational psychology. Chap. 25 in C. MURCHISON'S, Psycholo- 

gies of ipjo. Worcester, Mass.: Clark Univ. Press, 1930. Pp. xx + 497. 
10. WATSON, J. Hedonistic theories from Aristippus to Spencer. Glasgow: James 
Maclehose and Sons, 1895 ( a ^ so Macmillan). Pp. xiii + 248. 

* The conception of a physical mind will be elaborated at the close of Chapter X. 


n. WOODWORTH, R. S. Dynamic psychology. New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 
1918. Pp. 5 p. 1. + 210. 

The hedonistic explanation of learning; law of effect 

12. BEEBE-CENTER, J. G. The law of affective equilibrium. Amer. J. PsychoL, 1929, 

41, 54-69. 

13. CASON, H. The pleasure-pain theory of learning. PsychoL Rev., 1932, 39, 440- 


14. F. HOPPE. Erfolg und Misserfolg. PsychoL Forsch., 1930, 14, 1-62. 

15. Kuo, Z. Y. The nature of unsuccessful acts and their order of elimination in 

animal learning. /. Comp. Psychol. f 1922, 2, 1-27. 
1 6. MELTZER, H. The present status of experimental studies on the relationship of 

feeling to memory. PsychoL Rev., 1930, 37, 124-139. 
17. Moss, F. A. Note on building likes and dislikes in children. /. Exper. PsychoL, 

1924, 7, 475-8. 
1 8. TAIT, W. D. A short study in dislike. /. Abn. PsychoL, 1912, 7, 1-4. 

19. THORNDIKE, E. L. The -fundamentals of learning. New York: Columbia Univ. 

Press, 1932. Pp. xvii + 638. Chaps. 9 to 12. 

20. TSAI, C. The relative strength of sex and hunger motives in the albino rat. 

/. Comp. PsychoL, 1925, 5, 407-415. 

21. WASHBURN, M. F., with BACON, M. M., and ROOD, E. A. A study of affective 

contrast. Amer. J. PsychoL, 1914, 25, 290-293. 

22. YOUNG, P. T. Relative food preferences of the white rat, II. /. Comp. PsychoL, 

5 149-165- 

The nature of pleasantness and unpleasantness 

23. BEEBE-CENTER, J. G. The relation between affectivity and specific processes in 

sense-organs. PsychoL Rev., 1930, 37, 327-333. 

24. BEEBE-CENTER, J. G. The psychology of pleasantness and unpleasantness. New 

York: D. van Nostrand, 1932. Pp. viii + 427. 

25. CARR, H. Psychology, a study of mental activity. New York: Longmans, Green 

and Co., 1925. Pp. v + 432. Chapter 13. 

26. NAFE, J. P. An experimental study of the affective qualities. Amer. J. Psycho!. , 

1924, 35. 507-544. 

27. NAFE, J. P. The sense of feeling. In C. MURCHISON'S, The foundations of ex- 

perimental psychology. Worcester, Mass.: Clark Univ. Press, 1929. Pp. 
x + 907. 

28. TITCHENER, E. B. Lectures on the elementary psychology of feeling and attention. 

New York: Macmillan, 1908. Pp. ix + 404. Chaps, r, 2, 3, 4. 

29. WUNDT, W. Grundzuge der physiologischen Psychologic. Leipzig: Engelmann, 

1910. (6th ed.) Pp. viii -f 782. Chap. n. 

30. ZIEHEN, T. Introduction to physiological psychology. Trans. C. C. VAN LIEW 

and O. BEYER. London: Swan, Sonnenschein and Co., 1892. Pp. xiv + 284. 
(Chap. 7 is now decidedly out of date.) 



Simple, affective reactions to stimulating objects; pleasant and unpleasant feeling 
in relation to muscular activity 

31. ALLESCH, G. J. VON Die asthetische Erscheinnungsweise der Farben. PsychoL 

Forsch., 1924, 6, 1-91; 1925, 6, 215-281. 

32. BEEBE-CENTER, J. G. Op. dt. (reference 24, above). 

33. CLEGHORN, A. The reinforcement of voluntary muscular contractions. Amer. 

J. PhysioL, 1898, i, 336-345- 

34. CORWIN, G. H. The involuntary response to pleasantness. Amer. J. PsychoL, 

1921, 32, 563-570. 

35. ENGEL, R. Experimented Untersuchungen iiber die Abhangigkeit der Lust 

und Unlust von der Reizstarke beim Geschmackssinn. Arch. f. d. ges. PsychoL, 
1928, 64, 1-36. 

36. ERNST, A. Dynamographisch-plethysmographische Untersuchungen iiber die Ein- 

wirkung von Unlustgefuhlen auf aussere Willenshandlungen. Arch. f. d. ges. 
PsychoL, 1926, 57, 445-488. 

37. HERRICK, C. J. An introduction to neurology. Philadelphia: Saunders, 1915. 

PP- 355- 

38. HOFBAUER, L. Interferenz zwischen verschiedenen Impulsen im Centralnerven- 

system. Arch. f. d. ges. PhysioL, 1897, 68, 546-595. 

39. KNIEP, E. H., MORGAN, W. L., and YOUNG, P. T. Studies in affective psychology. 

Amer. J. PsychoL, 1931, 43, 406-421. 

40. LEHMANN, A. Die Hauptgesetze des menschlichen Gefuhlslebens . Leipzig: O. R. 

Reisland, 1914. Pp. viii -f- 442. 

41. LURIA, A. R. The nature of human conflicts, or, emotion, conflict, and will; 

an objective study of disorganization and control of human behavior. Trans. 
W. H. GANTT. New York: Liveright, 1932. Pp. xvii + 431. 

42. ROSE, H. Der Einflusz der Unlustgefiihle auf den motorischen Effekt der Willen- 

shandlungen. Arch. f. d. ges. PsychoL, 1913, 28, 94-182. 

43. SAIDULLAH, A. Experimented Untersuchungen iiber den Geschmackssinn. Arch. 

f. d. ges. PsychoL, 1927, 60, 457-484. 

44. STORRING, G. Experimentelle Beitrage zur Lehre vom Gefiihl. Arch. f. d. ges. 

PsychoL, 1905, 6, 316-356. 

45. YOUNG, P. T. Pleasantness and unpleasantness in relation to organic response. 

Amer. /. PsychoL, 1921, 32, 38-53. 

46. YOUNG, P. T. Movements of pursuit and avoidance as expressions of simple 

feeling. Amer. J. PsychoL, 1922, 33, 511-525. 

47. YOUNG, P. T. Studies in affective psychology; vii, Conflict of movement in 

relation to unpleasant feeling. Amer. J. PsychoL, 1928, 40, 394-400. 

The mental conditions of pleasant and unpleasant feeling; preferential 

48. BEEBE-CENTER, J. G. Op. dt. (reference 24, above). 

49. CASON, H. Common annoyances, a psychological study of everyday aversions 

and irritations, PsychoL Monog., 1930, 40, No. 2. 


50. CASON, H. Methods of preventing and eliminating annoyances. /. Abn. PsychoL, 

1930-31, 25, 40-48. 

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1930-31, 25, 224-236. 

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"The importance of sound knowledge as to how the motivation 
of an individual may be controlled by his social environment cannot 
be exaggerated. It is the problem of problems for psychology as ap- 
plied to many practical fields of human endeavor." 


From birth until death the individual is to a high degree depen- 
dent upon his fellows, not only for food, shelter, and the very name 
he bearVbut also for his standards of conduct, attitudes, sentiments, 
intere^s, and the traits of his personality. Although this is most 
completely true when he is very young, still at every age of his life, 
his social environment plays an important part in determining his 
behavior. Take, for example, the college student. He belongs to 
'several groups first of all to his family; then perhaps to his church 
group, his fraternity or club, other social or professional organiza- 
tions, and his political party; he belongs also to a large group of 
casual acquaintances and associates, and, closest of all during his 
college years, to the circle of his intimate friends. There is a handful 
of his teachers, too, who help to shape his patterns of thought and 
action. If he were suddenly transplanted from these social groups 
to a set of wholly different ones, his behavior patterns would become 
radically changed, for a person's idea of himself, all that he does 
and thinks, his individuality, are in large part derived from the role 
he plays upon the social stage. Of course this role is derived not only 
from the present social evironment but also from the whole sequence 
of previous ones-J 

In the foregoing chapters the biological factors in motivation, es- 
pecially those fundamental ones which are based upon persistent or- 
ganic conditions, have been considered in detail. Some of the social 
factors playing a vital part in the determination of conduct will now 
be examined the desire for prestige, the presence of a co-working 



group, rivalry and competition, praise and reproof, suggestion, be- 
lief, and other factors. 


The normal human individual seeks in some sphere or other, by 
this method or that, to assure himself of his superiority over other 
human beings. He craves recognition, distinction, success, power, 
leadership, wealth, influence. He wants to be on top instead of being 
the under dog; inside the group he considers to be the best one, 
rather than on the fringe. In every walk of life there are struggles 
going on for standing in one's group, i.e., 

In the army, for example, there is a carefully developed system of 
ranks and titles for commissioned officers. Important title, great 
power, and high prestige belong together. In a university faculty 
the system of ranks and titles is the same in principle. The president, 
deans and directors, heads of departments, and other executives have 
in general more prestige than other faculty men. These executives 
have the authority to give men their positions and to take them 
away, they pass upon the merits of men in making promotions, they 
recommend men for positions in other universities. In a word, they 
have power over the destinies of men; this power carries prestige 
with it. Again, the faculty man who holds no executive office may 
still be a leader in his special field. He may have a kind of prestige 
which depends upon recognition of merit by his professional group 

Among married women social standing is in good part deter- 
mined by the prestige of their husbands. A woman is certainly hon- 
ored for her own talents, charm, and achievements, yet it must be 
admitted that, other things being equal, the wife of a successful 
and powerful business executive will stand higher in the social scale 
than the wife of a good man whose main virtue is an humble and 
a contrite heart. Mrs. Pettyman, for instance, kotows and toadies 
when Mrs. Hightower, the wife of the general manager, enters the 

Nothing is more irritating to a person, no matter what his social 
status, than being classed as common. The words, "Nobody notices 
me; I'm just like the rest of ordinary folks," express the feeling of 
inferiority which arises when one regards himself as wholly lacking 
prestige. The scientist who is awarded the Nobel prize, the salesman 


chosen to receive the firm's national prize for salesmanship, the com- 
mon laborer who is appointed boss of his gang, each is pleased by 
the recognition which lifts him above his ordinary human herd. The 
woman who is told that she is beautiful is made happy by the com- 
pliment partly because she knows that beauty gives her distinction 
in the sphere of feminine charm and appeal. 

The desire for prestige often finds expression in a play for atten- 
tion and notice. If there is a choice between being ignored and 
being reproved, the reproof is usually regarded as the lesser evil. 
Even the asking of a small favor is in a sense a social recognition, 
and may be regarded as a pleasing notice, especially if the person 
asking it is one looked up to or admired. A way to win someone's 
good will is to ask of him a favor, the granting of which confers 
upon him a special distinction, or gives him an opportunity to dis- 
play his particular talent or ability. 

Often a person risks his life to gain notice, perhaps even to see 
his name in the paper. According to reports of the Loeb-Leopold 
trial one motive for the murder was to get public notice and atten- 
tion. That, of course, was an extreme case; but it is common knowl- 
edge that most people are pleased to see their names in the paper or 
to hear them mentioned in a radio broadcast. Sometimes, in more 
reticent circles, one may gain an even greater prestige by refusing 
to allow his name to appear in the paper, or by concealing his name 
as the donor of a gift. 

Although prestige motivation is basic to social behavior it must not 
be overstressed to the exclusion of other important motivations. The 
man of science working tirelessly to find new truths, the mother 
concerned for the welfare of her little children, the social worker 
interested in the health and happiness of others, the artist living for 
his work these illustrate behavior patterns in which motivations 
other than prestige are present. 

Physique and Leadership. A man's likelihood of holding an 
important executive position is definitely related to his physical 
build, particularly to his height, weight, and appearance of vigor. 
Gowin has shown that executives in general are taller and heavier 
than men not in executive positions. Taken as groups, superinten- 
dents, wardens, chiefs of police, railroad presidents, reformers, bank 
presidents, governors, senators, chiefs of fire departments, are men 


of large physique taller and heavier than the average. Moreover, 
the executives in important positions were found on the average to 
be more imposing physically than those in less responsible positions. 
Bishops were found to be taller and heavier than small-town preach- 
ers, presidents of universities than those of small colleges, city school 
superintendents than the principals in small towns, presidents of the 
state bar than country attorneys, sales managers than salesmen, rail- 
road presidents than station agents. These averages do not prove, of 
course, that a man of small physique cannot become an executive. 
They do mean that, in general, physical size is one measurable factor 
favoring leadership in the various activities. 

The man who is physically outstanding presents the appearance 
of having strength, vigor, force, power, which is all in his favor 
when it comes to dominating a social situation. Let us imagine two 
men making the same address before the same audience. One weighs 
two hundred pounds, is six feet tall, and has a bass voice; the other 
weighs one hundred and twenty pounds, is five feet four inches in 
height, and has a rather high-pitched voice. The big man talks 
slowly and ponderously; the little man rapidly and nervously. Which 
physique will impress the audience more favorably ? Which appear- 
ance will carry more conviction? History tells us that the little man, 
by superior intelligence, skill, and wisdom, by persuasive personality, 
by the intensity of his drive combined with fortunate circumstances 
may be carried to a position of far greater power and prestige than 
the big man who has a lesser degree of these qualities. But the fact 
remains that the large impressive-appearing man has the advantage 
of physical prestige to help him advance. 

The monarch or dictator, upon whom prestige is bestowed by the 
national group, is expected by all to act the part of a national hero. 
He must appear in a high silk hat or in one with a plume upon it 
(which increases his height and impressiveness), his wife must wear 
an elegant and distinctive gown and act her part as a great and 
gracious lady. His house or palace must be beautiful and impressive, 
a symbol of wealth, power, and prestige. 

Physique and the Attitude of Inferiority. The Viennese 
psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, Alfred Adler, has explained traits of 
behavior in terms of defeated or thwarted prestige motives. He 
pointed out that neurotic patients suffer from feelings or convictions 


of their own inferiority. Usually they have some bodily defect such 
as poor eyesight, deafness, weak lungs, heart, or other organ, or 
they are deformed handicapped socially in one way or another. 
During childhood the physical defect forced the individual to realize 
that he could not compete successfully with normal playmates. He 
was the loser in games, the target of ridicule, and as likely as not he 
acquired a nickname inspired by his deformity or handicap. As a 
result he developed attitudes of jealousy, suspicion, fear, and inferior- 

Any peculiarity which marks one out as different from the herd 
in an unfavorable way is the source of unpleasantness, and of an 
urge to compensate for this defect If one is fatter than the average, 
one seeks to be thin; if thinner, one seeks to gain weight. If one 
suffers from some obvious impairment, one tries to conceal it or to 
make good in spite of it. This is especially apparent in the case of 
speech defects, dental deformities, birthmarks on the face, cleft 
palate, hare-lip, crippled limbs, and similar disfigurements. 

The following case, described by Bagby, illustrates the defense 
reactions of a college student to his unsightly ears : 

This young college studei^t has been reared with a pain-punish- 
ment technique with the result that a typical conditioned-fear pat- 
tern had been established. That is, he reacted with fear to any 
stimulus suggesting criticism. Reaching college with this mechanism 
thoroughly formed, he reacted with a mild fear to the humorous 
comments passed upon his mule-like ears. The first of the trials of 
the trial-and-error which he exhibited in securing a reduction device 
consisted in letting his hair grow to such a length that his ears were 
completely concealed. This, however, did not bring about reduction, 
since his long hair was a new source of comment and unfavorable 
attitude. Shortly afterwards, he displayed a new trial which involved 
an effort to limit his social contacts to persons who were sympathetic. 
This was equally unsuccessful because contact with critics proved 
to be inevitable in the course of his undergraduate life. Finally, 
chance supplied him with a reductive process which persisted for 
many years. He happened to be talking to a small group of men on 
one occasion when he heard the sound of distant music. Upon 
inquiry, he discovered that no other person present had heard what 
he had. Immediately, he had a thought which quickly became a 
permanent part of his "ear" complex. "I have a fine ear for music 



and these persons who are amused at me are fools. They do not 
understand that the form of my ears gives me a fine sense for small 
tone differences." It is very noteworthy that the young man began 
immediately to undertake the serious study of music and actually 
has become an excellent teacher of singing, For present purposes it 
is interesting to point out that, through a process of trial-and-error, 
the patient secured a reductive process of thinking which operates 
to destroy "the stimulating value" of criticisms directed at his per- 
sonal appearance. 

Compensations for Intellectual and Social Inferiority, 
Quite apart from outwardly apparent physical defects, a sense of 
inferiority may grow out of failure in any sphere of lifeintellectual, 
economic, moral, esthetic, political, etc. There are plenty of men in 
the world with fine physiques who have accomplished little or 
nothing to distinguish themselves from the herd. Possibly they are 
handicapped by a low degree of intelligence, by poverty, by unfor- 
tunate home training, or by the unenlightened dominance of well- 
meaning parents. There are all sorts of circumstances which handicap 

During his entire lifetime an individual may be motivated by 
an urge to demonstrate superiority in the face of some social or in- 
tellectual obstacle. The possession of low intelligence is one of the 
main factors in the failure to achieve distinction, Plenty of individ- 
uals with physical vigor have accomplished little or nothing to 
distinguish themselves, mainly because of their intellectual limita- 
tions. The dull student seeks by hard work, by alibis, by substitution 
of extra-curricular activities, and by other means to hide his obtuse- 
ness. In the economic sphere, poverty may be compensated for by 
honest and industrious activity, by striving for wealth, by taking 
infinite pains to keep up a good front, by complaining about hard 
times, or by talking about rich relatives, The shrewd business man, 
by contrast, who has made a fortune through squeezing money out 
of others, compensates for a sense of moral guilt by contributing to 
churches and to other worthy institutions. His self-evident generosity 
and virtue obscure the questionable methods by which the money 
was raised. 

The child may compensate for a sense of inadequacy by imposing 
upon his playmates, the members of his family, and others in a 
great variety of ways. He may get his way by whining, by temper 


tantrums, by sulking and refusing to play. Possibly he becomes a 
bully toward smaller children when at heart he is a coward and 

As Watson once put it, ". . . one man constantly makes a poor 
score in golf, but he prides himself on having better 'form' than 
any other member belonging to the club. Money suddenly acquired 
is often a balancing or compensating factor for lack of breeding and 
social position. A woman lacking beauty of face preens herself 
over her form, or lacking both, upon her hair, or even upon the 
size of her feet or the shape of her hand. Lack of special recogni- 
tion and position of a given family is compensated for by the fact 
that they are relatives of some person of recognized ability and 

The Basis of Prestige Motivation. In all the above exam- 
ples of prestige motivation the fundamental factor is the level of 
ones self-esteem. In the constant interaction of self with others the 
belief is gradually built up that one is more or less competent, bet- 
ter or worse than others. This level of self -evaluation, which de- 
pends largely upon what others say and do, is the basic fact under- 
lying prestige motivation. 

Prestige means power, recognition, social security, the high esteem 
of others. The person upon whom prestige is bestowed by the group 
is in a position to lead. Not only can he command the services and 
financial resources of others, but also he has a strong position in the 
struggle for the goods of this world. For one thing, the man who 
excels can gain a bigger money income than his competitors in 
almost every walk of life. Under our present economic system money 
brings the power to satisfy wants; money is a recognized mark of 
success. The wealthy man is able to support his family in comfort, 
he can travel, enjoy recreation, satisfy his whims. The rich dowager 
whose only assets are financial ones stands well in the community. 
Her economic prestige gives her a halo, such that her ideas about 
literature, politics, philosophy, religion, or what not, are listened to 
respectfully, and sometimes published in the papers. 
/ In"5very sphere of life prestige is equivalent to success. Economic 
prestige is success so far as wealth is concerned. In the realm of 
friendship and love the person who can win and hold the affec- 
tion of others has an enviable position. In the business or profes- 


sional world, on the golf course, in the class room, in the parlor- 
some individuals are outstanding; they are the ones recognized as 

In most cases the biological utility of prestige is quite apparent. 
Social standing enables one to satisfy his appetites as well as his 
whims. The successful man has the opportunity to satisfy hunger, 
the proper environment for sexual satisfaction and the rearing of 
young, protection from extremes of cold and heat, opportunity to 
travel and study, the chance to do about as he pleases. Social success 
is an aspect of biological success. The craving for superiority is based 
upon the urge to live and grow, expressed in a complex social en- 
vironment by highly socialized individuals. 


Prestige motivation rests upon the distinction of one's self from 
others. It further presupposes an evaluation or rating of one's self 
in relation to others, and in various fields of competence. Prestige 
motivation is exceedingly fundamental. It underlies the phenomena 
of cooperation, team work, rivalry, competition, praise, reproof, as 
well as other social facilitations and inhibitions which will be con- 
sidered in this and the following sections. 

Almost any situation which singles out an individual from the 
group affects the speed or the quality of his performance, whether 
in the artificial conditions of a laboratory or in everyday activity. 
The presence of a group of spectators or an audience is likely either 
to facilitate or to inhibit activity. The musician, the lecturer, the 
actor, the preacher, and others who perform in public, are all more 
or less sensitive to the behavior of their audiences and affected by 
them. Even the mere presence of a co-working group in which no 
one individual is singled out affects the level of performance of the 
members of the group, as Allport has shown in the following experi- 

The Effect of Co-workers upon Individual Achievement. 
Allport performed a series of six experiments to discover how the 
presence of other individuals affects the achievement of the worker. 
In a laboratory environment he had his subjects carry out tasks alone 
(A conditions), and in groups of not more than five at a table to- 
gether (T conditions). 



He hoped to eliminate rivalry by telling the subjects that their 
work was not to be regarded as competitive, and by preventing any 
comparison of results among individual subjects. It is problematical 
as to how far rivalry was actually eliminated. (Moede found that 
rivalry developed spontaneously in a group of co-working boys.) 
Allport's subjects themselves reported a consciousness of rivalry, 
which indicates that it did play some role in influencing their per- 
formance. But quite apart from rivalry, common experience indicates 
that the placing of an individual in a social situation by having an 
audience present, or even a group of co-workers, does in some way 
heighten his awareness of himself and those about him, and does 
modify his behavior. 

To describe behavioral changes dependent upon the presence of a 
group Allport coined several picturesque and convenient phrases. 
Taking a subject's performance level for solitary work as a standard, 
a quantitative increase while working in a group was called a social 
increment, and a corresponding loss a social decrement. From the 
qualitative point of view, gain in the group was called a social super- 
valuent and loss a social subvaluent. 

The first of Allport's six experiments made use of free chain asso- 
ciation. One hundred free associations were given by the subject 
in response to a stimulus word at the top of the sheet, and the time 
needed to write the words was recorded. Two of the three subjects 
showed a considerable social increment (9.3 per cent and 13.8 per 
cent); the other a small social decrement (3 per cent). 

The second experiment continued work with free chain associa- 
tion, but utilized a larger group of subjects a total of fifteen work- 
ing in groups of five each. Solitary and group conditions were alter- 
nated systematically. The number of words written in a three-minute 
period was used as a measure. Fourteen of the fifteen subjects 
showed social increments of varying amounts. The average gain was 
6.2 associations per three-minute period (mean variation 4.1). The 
greatest gain was made during the first minute of work and the 
least during the third minute. 

There were also qualitative differences between the results under 
the two conditions. Eighty per cent of the subjects wrote more per- 
sonal associations when alone than when in a group, whereas under 
the latter conditions words suggested by the immediate surround- 



ings, and also "free rising" ideas (ideas occurring to the subject 
spontaneously, without any connection to the situation), appeared 
more frequently. The subjects reported an awareness of being 
"drawn out" by the presence of the group so as to produce associa- 
tions of a more objective type. 

Judging by statements of the subjects, the social situation appar- 
ently presented two clear-cut~f actors working in opposite directions: 
(i) an impeding influence, i.e., sensory distraction, emotional ex- 
citement from rivalry and from self-prejudicial comparisons with 
others; (2) a facilitating influence derived from the suggestion that 
one's neighbor was working rapidly, and from self-imposed com- 
petition with him. The second factor was stronger than the first and 
served as an incentive to greater effort. 

In a third experiment upon free chain association the subject was 
asked to write down every fourth word that occurred to him. This 
method was adopted because it was feared that, since associations 
come faster than one can write them down, the second experiment 
measured only the speed of writing. In treating the data the number 
of associations produced was multiplied by four. Results in this 
experiment indicated a distinct though less pronounced advantage 
of the social over the solitary conditions. Two subjects gave equiva- 
lent results in both situations, but of the remaining twelve, eight 
produced more associations in the group than alone. The conscious- 
ness of rivalry, though said to be slight, was reported by more than 
half of the subjects. 

In a fourth experiment conditions were the same as above except 
that the subject thought of his own initial stimulus-word, and wrote 
down every third verbal association. There were eight subjects, in 
two groups of four each. The results of this experiment verified 
those of the foregoing ones. There was a social increment with 75 
per cent of the subjects. 

The fifth experiment confirms the previous results. The sixth was 
concerned with thought processes. Passages from Epictetus and 
Marcus Aurelius were selected which admit of considerable argu- 
ment. The task of the subjects was to write down arguments to 
disprove a point which was made in the passage presented. Five 
minutes' time was allowed. Nine subjects worked in two groups. 
The experiment was carried on over a period of two months, with 



systematic variations of solitary and group conditions, as well as of 
the passages used. 

Each written test was graded upon the quality of argument by 
means of a scale. It is interesting that a greater variety of ideas was 
produced in the social situations than in solitary conditions, but that 
superior ideas were expressed in greater number when working 

"There is thus demonstrated a social subvaluent for argumentative 
or discursive reasoning. This finding is no doubt in accord with 
commonly observed facts of life. Who has not been aware, upon 
retrospection, of the low order of logical value in many arguments 
given under such a strong social influence as that of political meet- 
ings and oral debates ? There seems to be a spreading out of our 
thought rather than a strong output of separate original ideas of 
logical worth. Group thought is extensive*, individual thought is, to 
some extent, intensive"' The verbal reports of the subjects bear some 
evidence that they were themselves aware of how they were reacting 
to the conditions of this experiment. 

In general, Allport's experiments upon social facilitation and inhi- 
bition show that the presence of a co-working group is likely to 
speed up the individual's verbal associative processes, but that this 
effect is not a uniform one. The quality or meaningful character of 
the verbal processes also varies with the social situation, arguments 
produced in solitude being superior to those brought forth in a 

Social Inhibition with Stutterers. Travis repeated Allport's 
experiment with a group of ten stutterers, using free chain associa- 
tions. He found that eight of them produced more associations alone 
than when in a group. These results contrast sharply with those of 
Allport with non-stutterers, which showed experimentally that four- 
teen out of fifteen subjects produced more associations when working 
in a social situation than when alone. Also, Allport found greater 
variability in group than in solitary work, whereas Travis discovered 
the reverse to be true with stutterers. Thus the presence of a group, 
although it is usually facilitating to non-stutterers, is found to be 
inhibiting to stutterers. 

Most stutterers can talk with little or no speech impairment when 
alone. Of twenty-five examined by Travis twelve had very little 


trouble in speaking when alone, twelve had no difficulty whatever, 
and only one had as much speech impairment when alone as he did 
in a social situation. 

Speaking is a social process, and speech disorders are linked up 
closely to social attitudes. Possibly the group-avoiding attitude of 
stutterers determined the difference which Travis found, for it is 
known that stutterers are to some extent socially diffident. Whether 
social maladjustments determine stuttering or the speech defect 
determines the unfortunate social attitude, or whether on the other 
hand both phenomena are determined by a third common factor, 
or whether all these possibilities are true in part; these are questions 
whose importance to human welfare demands that they be given 
careful study. 


Nearly everyone is eager to excel in some way; even the two-year- 
old shows a tendency to better his meager accomplishments. The 
school child brings home some sample of penmanship, a drawing, 
or a map, and proudly displays it with the words, "See what I did!" 
This desire to excel, to win distinction, approval, recognition, praise 
in a word, to gain prestige is back of the phenomena of rivalry 
and competition. 

The Motivational Effects of Competition In Sport: Bicy- 
cle Racing. Bicycle racing, which was a popular sport before 
the days of automobiles and airplanes, brought to light the inter- 
esting fact that the man who took the lead and set the pace usually 
lost the race. In the sport several types of races were evolved, and 
each man competed for championship in a particular style of race. 
In one type a man raced against time, and his sole aim was to beat 
a previous record made by himself or some other wheelman. , In a 
different type of race the contestant was paced, either by a tandem 
or by several fast cyclists in turn; and it came to be recognized that 
the practice of pacing resulted in faster speed records than those 
made merely against time. In still another type of contest, competi- 
tion was involved. It was discovered that in the competitive race 
the leading man had a disadvantage; usually in the final spurt the 
pacemaker dropped behind while the cyclist just behind him won 
the race. Consequently, the start of a competitive race was charac- 


terized by "loafing/" during which each man sought to force the 
others to take the lead and set the pace. 

The advantage of being paced may be in part an actual physical 
one rather than purely psychological. Wheelmen came to believe 
that the pacing machine left a partial vacuum behind it, causing a 
"suction" effect which aided the bicycle directly following. The 
pacemaker, it was said, had to force his machine through the resist- 
ing air and hence became more quickly fatigued, whereas the 
following machine could always find shelter from the wind by 
selecting a position behind the pace-setter. 

Some wheelmen said that, if a friend set the pace, it was an 
encouragement to the follower; others said that the man in the lead 
had "brain worry."* Still others assumed that attention to the re- 
volving wheel of the pace-setting machine had an hypnotic effect 
upon the follower; he was said to move automatically, merely 
"hanging on" almost involuntarily. Triplett believed that there was 
a "dynamogenic" factor, or more simply that the sight and sound 
of the leading bicycle stimulated the racer to greater effort, and 
released in him energy which of himself he could not release. The 
conception of the "dynamogenic" factor was not clearly defined; 
competition played some role in it, but there was also said to be an 
element of suggestion. 

To study competition under laboratory conditions which ruled 
out the complicating physical factors of the race, Triplett devised a 
simple experiment. The task of the subject was merely to turn the 
crank of a fishing reel, which is roughly analogous to turning one 
pedal of a bicycle. Two such cranks were arranged side by side, so 
that the turning could be done either alone or in competition. 

The speed of turning the crank was instrumentally recorded. The 
experiment involved nearly 225 subjects, but the main report is 
based upon records from forty children, aged eight to seventeen 
(modal age eleven) years. 

Triplett found that the effect of competition was not at all uni- 
form. With most of the subjects, competition stimulated in a positive 
way which resulted in the making of faster time, but with some it 

*An interesting collection of traditions and superstitions concerning bicycle racing, from 
which these illustrations are taken, is found in Triplett's study referred to at the end of 
this chapter. 


worked adversely, retarding their speed of motion. In the latter cases 
competition brought loss of motor control which appeared to be 
dependent upon the competitive attitude of the subjects. This atti- 
tude was described by subjects as an intense desire or determination 
to win the race. The adverse effect of competition was shown ex- 
ternally by labored breathing, flushing of the face, and tenseness in 
the muscles of the arms. In other words, too firm a determination to 
make the best showing was sometimes disruptive to behavior and 
self-defeating. There was a small number of subjects who appeared 
to be little affected by the race; these were about equally fast when 
working alone and in competition. The last group suggests an 
analogous group of wheelmen who did about equally well in the 
paced and unpaced races. 

Thus, more than thirty-five years ago, Triplett demonstrated 
experimentally that individuals differ in their reactions to competi- 
tion. Most are spurred on by it; but in some, activity becomes dis- 
organized and blocked; a few are little affected. 

One of the psychological conceptions illustrated in this study is 
that of overmotivation. An exceedingly intense determination to 
win the race may lead to emotional disruption, bringing a motiva^ 
tional decrement, whereas a less intense determination may give an 
increment instead. 

Rivalry in Relation to Rate of Tapping and Strength of 
Grip. We have seen that speed of reaction and strength of mus- 
cular contraction vary with motivating conditions, The effect of 
rivalry upon these same fwo factors was studied by Moede in two 
experiments in which he used as an index the speed of tapping and 
the strength of grip,, comparing performance in a social situation 
with that when waking alone. 

In the tapping test, boys (aged twelve to fourteen years) were 
instructed to make as many dots as passible in the time allowed, 
uing a pencil and a sheet of paper. The time limit for each te$t was 
thirty seconds.* When the boys worked in groups, rivalry developed 
spontaneously, the instruction being tacitly assume4 by the boys to 
include the surpassing of competitors. There was every evidence of 

* An electrically recording tapping board was used as a control. The speeds of tapping 
which were obtained with this apparatus were equivalent to those gained by paper and 
pencil technique. 



genuine rivalry. Seeing one's neighbor work and hearing his insist- 
ent tapping developed an urge to surpass and to win. The experi- 
menter observed a tenseness of muscle, and also that the dots were 
heavy ones. In some cases the competitive work was so vigorous that 
the pressure of skin against pencil drew a small amount of blood. 

From Moede's tabulated results we have plotted the curves shown 
in Fig. 79. The average performance under the two conditions was 


500 -r 







Working aione 
Working together 



H I- 


{Plotted "from Moede's data.) 

The ordinates give the total number of dots made by each of the boys in two thirty- 
second periods. The dotted line indicates the rank order for tapping under solitary condi- 
tions, and the solid line the scores for the same boys working in a group, in which spon- 
taneous rivalry developed. 

about the same: for competitive work it was 396 points per minute; 
for solitary tapping it was 391. But the group as a whole was much 
more variable during solitary than during competitive work. For 
solitary work the mean variation was 11.3 per cent; for the per- 
formance in a group it was only 6.0 per cent of the average score. 

The curves in Fig. 79 show that rivalry is a leveler. Under com- 
petitive conditions the faster half of the group slowed down and the 



slower half speeded up. As shown by the preceding experiment of 
Triplett, rivalry does not change the work of all individuals in the 
same direction. 

In a further experiment Moede measured strength of grip using 
a Collin's elliptical dynamometer. He sought to determine the effect 
of rivalry upon muscular strength. Each boy was given five trials 
and then after a pause five more; the ten were averaged, and the 
mean variation determined. The test was made both under solitary 
and competitive conditions with the following result: 

Solitary Work 

Competition with 
Another Boy 

Average pull 

ID i kff. 

Z2..4 kg. 


"-'O o 


^" *r o 

Working in competition with one other boy thus gave about 10 per 
cent increase over the efficiency of performance for solitary work. 
Six weeks later the experiment was repeated with the finding that 
the competitive increment was n per cent. 

Note that increased strength was accompanied by lowered varia- 
bility. Unfortunately, Moede's conclusions in this particular experi- 
ment are based upon too small a number of subjects for a certain 

Competitive and Non-competitive Attitudes. The essen- 
tial difference between competitive and non-competitive work is the 
attitude of the worker. Whittemore demonstrated this in an experi- 
ment which controlled attitudes through instruction. The subjects 
worked in groups of four. The task given them was that of copying 
newspaper material with a set of rubber type, which involved semi- 
mechanical movement and required constant alertness. The follow- 
ing instructions were used alternately: 

1. Non-competition. "Try to get as much work done as you can, 
remembering that both the quality and the quantity of the work 
you do will count in your final score. Don't attempt to beat your 

2. Competition, "Try to beat your fellow-workers, remembering 
that both quality and quantity count in your final score. You may 



use any method you see fit to employ in keeping track of the 
progress of your competitors. Compete!" 

The quality of the work was graded by the experimenter on a 
scale varying from one to ten. The quantity score was the number 
of letters written per test, regardless of errors. The subjects were told 
that the measure of their achievement was the value obtained by 
multiplying quality by quantity scores. 

The results indicate clearly that every one of the subjects produced 
considerably more work when competing than when working indi- 
vidually. A ^competition index'* was obtained for each subject by 
dividing the competitive by the non-competitive scores, and the 
following competitive indices, taken from the tabulated results, 
show the degree to which competition was effective. 

Group I 

Group II 

Group III 

i. ii 









I. XI 



The average competitive index is 1.26, which indicates a percentile 
gain through competition of about 26 per cent (P,B.> 0.04). 

In this experiment all subjects produced a distinctly poorer quality 
of work when they were competing than when working non- 
competitiveiy, Thus Whittemore's study demonstrates that a quan- 
titative increment and a qualitative decrement are induced by com- 
petition; and further it shows that competition depends upon the 
subject's attitude which, to a considerable extent, can be controlled 
by instruction. 

Working for One's Self versus Working for One's Group, 

In playing on # football team, or fighting upon the battlefield, an 
individual loses his identity to a considerable extent and acts rnainly 
as a member of the group. Everyone is familiar with group spirit, 
esprit de corps, loyalty to one's team. 

There are obviously two forms of competition from the standpoint 
of the social situation : the first is, competing as an individual against 
another individual, or against one's own previous record; and the 



second, competing as a member of one's group, for the success of 
the whole group. In experiments upon individual and group com- 
petition, Sims demonstrated the vast superiority of achievement 
when working for one's self over that when working for one's 

The general plan of his experiments was to form three sections of 
equal initial ability, to instruct them to carry out a common experi- 
mental task under conditions which differed only in the type of 
competition, and to compare end-results. In a control section the 
subjects were urged to try to improve, but they were told nothing 
about their daily scores in the work and competition was not estab- 
lished. In a group-motivation section two equivalent groups were 
formed which competed against each other, with full knowledge of 
the scores and of the progress of both competing groups. In an 
individual-motivation section the subjects were paired and each kept 
his own record and that of a partner, with whom he was competing. 

In one of the experiments the task was a verbal substitution test. 
The three groups of subjects all of them college students prac- 
ticed word substitution three times a week for twelve practice peri- 
ods. Using the average scores of the last two practice periods as a 
measure of final attainment, and comparing this with initial ability, 
Sims found the following increments in the number of substitutions 
per minute : 




Per Cent of 

Non-competitive control 

^6 o 

72.. 8 

101 z 

Group motivation 


}6 i 

75 8 


Individual motivation 

j v x 

}6 2. 

/ } ' u 

*-^y- y 




The results show that all sections made a marked gain with practice. 
Group motivation gave improvement only slightly superior to that 
of the control group, but individual motivation gave results decid- 
edly superior to those obtained with both other types of motivation. 
In another experiment the Monroe Standardized Silent Reading 
Test, Form 2, was used to measure improvement in the speed of 
reading. After an initial test, three equivalent sections of fifteen 
subjects each were formed, the first a control group, the second 
using group competition, and the third, individual competition. 



Reading practice in textbook material was given to all groups, and 
tfiis was followed by the Monroe test. Those who are familiar with 
this particular reading test know that it consists of a series of passages 
followed by multiple-choice questions. The answers to the questions 
reveal the subject's comprehension and speed of reading. Inasmuch 
as the test is intended for grammar-school children, one may assume 
that the materials are easily understood by college students and that 
the scores are measures of the rate of reading. 

Comparison of the initial and final rates of reading in terms of 
words read per minute shows the following increments in speed: 




Per Cent of 

Non-competitive control 

167 "* 

181 9 

8 7 

Group motivation . . 

w / * j 
167 ^ 


14. ^ 

Individual motivation 

AX -Y * } 

j.ys. . y 


nr* j 


4.W/ ./ 


These results are similar to those in the former experiment. Indi- 
vidual motivation proved markedly superior, in increasing speed of 
reading, to motivation in which the individual competed only as a 
member of the group. Group motivation was slightly more effective 
than control motivation. 

A similar investigation is that of Mailer, who compared working 
for social gain with working for personal gain. Using school chil- 
dren as subjects, he found that the latter motivation was decidedly 
the more effective. 

Rivalry in the Class Room. Rivalry provides an effective 
form of motivation which can be used in the school room. In one 
of her experiments conducted in a public school of Harrisburg, 
Pennsylvania, Hurlock introduced rivalry to determine its effect 
upon work in arithmetic. The children were divided into two groups 
rivalry and control which were equated for age, ability, and dis- 
tribution of the sexes. The two groups, equivalent in every respect, 
carried out their work in separate rooms. The control group worked 
with customary class-room motivation; the rivalry group worked 
with this plus rivalry, being divided into two subgroups which com- 
peted against each other. 

On the first day of the experiment, the Courtis test of addition 
was given to all children for the purpose of selecting the groups. 



On the second and following experimental days the two groups 
were treated differently. The experimenter explained to the rivalry 
group that the subgroups were equal in ability, that they were 
competing, and that each had the same chance to win. Rivalry was 
encouraged in several ways. After a day of competitive work the 
experimenter read the names of the members of the winning group, 
asking each child to rise as his or her name was called. This proce- 
dure gave social recognition to each individual as well as to his 
group. The score for the group, Le. f the number of examples cor- 
rectly added by the group as a whole per test period, was written 
on the blackboard and the experimenter explained how far the 
leading group was ahead of its rival She urged the defeated group 
to work harder. 

The behavior of the children indicated that a genuine attitude 
of rivalry had been created. They worked with an intense enthusiasm 
similar to that seen in competitive sports. It is reasonable to assume 
that the gain in the rivalry group, over and above the practice gain 
shown by the control group, is a genuine measure of the influence of 

The scores made by the children in the addition tests are pre- 
sented below for the five days of the experiment:* 

Day of Experiment 






4th grade 


ii. 14 



I 5-43 









6th grade 


The scores of the older children, as we should expect, were consist- 
ently superior to those of the younger ones. The effect of rivalry is 
seen by comparing the results for the rivalry and the control groups 
on days 2, 3, 4, and 5, when rivalry was effective. 

* Sigma and P. E. aT . values and other details are given by Hurlock. 



Under control motivation the younger children made relatively 
greater practice gains than did the older ones, a fact to be borne 
in mind when interpreting the figures. Rivalry brought marked in- 
crements in scores at both age levels. Among various incidental re- 
sults the following are of interest in the present context: 

1. Rivalry proved more effective with children of inferior ability 
than with those of average or superior ability. On the last day the 
inferior children were 59 per cent, the average ones 35 per cent, and 
the superior children 37 per cent above the practice level of the 
control group. 

2. The subsection of the rivalry group which was defeated on the 
first day of competition never overcame the initial loss, but stood, 
throughout, below the other section. 

3. Sex differences were small, but the girls were slightly in the 
lead. On the last day the gain above practice was 46 per cent for 
the girls and 39 per cent for the boys. 

In evaluating the use of rivalry in the class room, Hurlock writes 

These results, taken as a whole, to include the sex, age and 
ability factors, point to the conclusion that rivalry is an effective in- 
centive to use with children of the elementary school grades, as a 
means of inducing them to do better work in connection with 
their school studies. The interest which this arouses, the outlet for 
a natural desire to compete with others of equal ages, and the train- 
ing which it gives in the building up of a cooperative spirit, as 
opposed to selfish individualism, justify its use. Even if it should 
lead to a tendency to decrease in accuracy of work, in the desire 
to accomplish more for the group, this fault is more than com- 
pensated for by the increased interest in school work, and the op- 
portunity offered for development of character and personality. 


We assumed above that an urge to excel motivates rivalry and 
competition. This same craving for superiority renders encourage- 
ment and discouragement, praise and reproof, effective as incentives. 
Although rivalry reveals by actual test what a man can and cannot 
accomplish and, further, which individual is the best of his group, 
praise and reproof accomplish a similar result by means of words 
and symbolic expressions. The level of one's self-esteem is markedly 



raised or lowered by what is said or implied relative to one's com- 

In an experiment by Gates and Rissland, college students were 
individually given two tests under different motivating conditions. 
During the first test all subjects were treated alike, but before the 
second trial the first subject was encouraged, the next to take the 
test was discouraged, the third was treated indifferently, the fourth 
encouraged, and so on. The subjects thus formed three experimental 
groups encouraged, discouraged, and control. 

Each subject was given a trial with a three-hole motor coordina- 
tion test and a color-naming test, both before and after the special 
motivation. The first subject was encouraged with these words: 
"That is really splendid! Do you always make such good scores? 
In a curve of distribution your score would be way up here (indi- 
cating a position at the top of the curve). Your score was so good 
that I wonder if you would mind repeating the test?" The next 
subject was discouraged by the words: "Oh dear, that is really a 
vey poor score. I am afraid that you would fall at the bottom of 
the curve of distribution, etc." The control subject was told nothing 
concerning his performance but was simply asked to repeat the test. 

The following table shows what percentage of the subjects im- 
proved, remained the same, and fell off in their performance after 
the special motivation was introduced: 


, , 

Effect of Special Motivation upon 


Remained Same 

Fell Off 










Encouraged ... 

5 1 







Although the differences between the effects of encouragement and 
discouragement are small, one can safely say that some comment 
to the subject about his performance was more effective than none 
at all, and that an encouraging remark was more effective than a 
discouraging one. Another interesting finding is that the subjects 
with relatively low initial scores were the ones most strikingly af- 
fected by discouragement, and those with relatively high scores 
were less affected by it. 

Praise and Reproof. Encouragement and discouragement are 
so closely related to praise and reproof that the foregoing study 
logically belongs with this more elaborate investigation of the lat- 
ter pair of incentives, by Hurlock. In studying the effect of praise 
and reproof upon the performance of a task Hurlock used different 
forms of the Otis and the National Intelligence Tests. The Otis test 
was used with third-grade children, the National test with fifth and 
eighth graders in the New York City schools. (See pp. 18-20.) On 
the basis of intelligence-test scores three groups of about equal ability 
were formed; there were 136 subjects in each group. 

At a second meeting of the groups another form of the same test 
was used. Before presenting the test, two of the three equivalent 
groups were given special incentives in the form of instructions. 
The members of the first group were praised for their work in a 
carefully prepared speech, which follows: 

Before beginning the test, I have a few things that I would like 
to say to you. I suppose you are wondering why I am giving you 
a test like the one you took last week? Well, I have just finished 
correcting all the papers for your grade, and I have selected you 
from the whole group who took the tests last week because of the 
very excellent work you did in that test. You not only made the best 
marks in your grade, but you did better than most boys (or girls) 
in grade (mentioning a grade several years higher than the one 
present) do in this test. 

Let me say a few words about your papers. They were excep- 
tionally neat, the answers were put in the right places, and although 
some of you did not answer all of the questions, what you did 
answer, you answered well, and this counts more than answering 
all and getting half of them wrong. 

Today, I am going to give you a test like the one you had last 


week. I want you to try not only to break your own record, but 
also to make this group stand first in the school, and set a standard 
for the others who do not do so well. 

I know that you can all do even better than you did last time, so 
work carefully and try just as hard as you possibly can. Remember, 
you are not only trying to break your own records, but you are 
going to set a standard for the others in your grade. 

The members of the second equivalent group of children were 
reproved before the test, in the following words: 

Before beginning this test, I have a few things that I would like 
to say to you. I suppose you are wondering why I am giving you 
a test like the one you took last week? Well, I have just finished 
correcting all the papers of your grade, and I have selected you 
from the whole group who took the test last week because of the 
very poor work you did in that test- You not only did very badly 
in the test, but you are way below the standard for boys (or girls) 
of your age and grade. As the other boys (or girls) in your class 
did so well in this test, I know it isn't because you have not been 
taught these things in school. You have had the same chances to 
learn them as the others, but you just haven't tried. 

Your papers were slovenly, careless, and you made mistakes that 
even a second-grade child would know better than to make. You 
are not supposed to answer all of the questions on every page, but 
what you do, you are supposed to do carefully and correctly. This 
will count more in the end than doing all and making a lot of care- 
less mistakes. 

I don't know whether you always do as badly in your school 
work as you did in this test. You certainly did badly enough in this 
test to feel thoroughly ashamed of yourselves, not only for your 
own sakes, but for your class record. It seems too bad for a group 
of boys (or girls) like you to bring down the class standard and 
hold back the others who really tried to do good work. 

I feel that it is only fair to give you another chance. So, today you 
are to have a test like the one you took last week. I don't know if 
you can do any better than you did last time in fact, I rather doubt 
if you can but I am going to give you this chance. 

The third group received neither praise nor reproof, but repeated 
the test performance under conditions similar to those on the first 


The results show that praise and reproof were equally effective in 
raising the test scores. In the control group, 52 per cent of the chil- 
dren raised their scores on the second test. In the praised group, 
79 percent raised their scores; and in the reproved group, 80 per 
cent. The difference between the praised and the reproved groups 
is negligible, but the difference between both of these groups, on 
the one hand, and the control group, on the other hand, is statisti- 
cally significant. 

The motivational increments were examined in relation to age, 
sex, intelligence, race. Some interesting findings are summarized 
below : 

1. The older children responded more, both to praise and reproof, 
than did the younger ones. It is possible that some other form of 
incentive, e.g., reward and punishment, would be more effective 
with young children, 

2. Boys made greater gains than girls both after praise and after 
reproof. In the control group (which lacked special incentives) the 
girls raised their score with practice more than did the boys. 

3. Bright children, as shown both by the intelligence-test scores 
and by ratings of their teachers, were more influenced by the 
special motivation than were dull ones. Praise proved relatively more 
effective with inferior intelligence, and conversely, reproof was 
more effective with bright children. Commenting upon this last 
result Hurlock writes: "There is no question about the fact that in 
the ordinary class room it is the dull children who are constantly 
subjected to reproof for poor work, while the brighter children 
receive what little praise is given. From the recent work of Pintner 
and others, it is now clearly demonstrated that it is the 'inferior' 
children who are working up to capacity, while the 'superior 5 are 
working at a much lower level than their innate ability would 
permit. Hence, the inference is that the dull children of a class be 
encouraged whenever possible, and what reproof is used should be 
reserved for the most intelligent children who are satisfied with 
only average work." 

4. Of the children studied, 37 per cent were colored and 63 per 
cent were white. The negro children reacted more favorably to 
praise than to reproof, and conversely the white children reacted 
more favorably to reproof. The differences, however, were slight. 



The interpretation of this result is a matter of opinion. It may be 
that the relative effectiveness of praise and reproof varies with the 
degree of an individual's sense of inferiority or superiority. The 
social environment of the negro in all parts of the United States 
cannot help but build up an attitude of inferiority in him. 

5. At the close of the experiment the children filled out a ques- 
tionnaire which throws light upon their reaction to praise and 
reproof. They agreed that they tried harder after both praise and 
reproof and thought they did better with those incentives than in 
the original test* They believed that encouragement had a more 
lasting effect upon them than discouragement. They admitted that 
the reproof evoked a certain amount of fear fear of not being 
promoted (for the children took the tests seriously as a part of the 
school requirement). Further, and not surprisingly, they said they 
enjoyed taking the test more after being praised than after being 

The immediate effects of praise and reproof may be about the 
same, as shown by this study, but how about the more permanent 
effects when these forms of motivation are used consistently over 
a period of time ? This question was raised by Hurlock in a second 
experiment. She asked: "In a classroom, do the children who con- 
stantly receive praise for their work show more improvement from 
day to day than do the children who are reproved or who are com- 
pletely ignored ?" 

To study this question school children were required to take fif- 
teen-minute tests in addition, which were repeated daily under sys- 
tematically varied motivating conditions. Five forms of the Courtis 
Research Test in arithmetic were used. Each form contained thirty 
examples of equal difficulty made up of six three-digit numbers to 
be added, a different form being used on each experimental day. 
The subjects were 106 fourth- and sixth-grade children in a public 
school of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. 

On the first day of the experiment all the children were given 
the addition test together. On the basis of these results four groups 
of equal ability were formed. On the other days of the experiment 
one of these groups, regarded as a control, took the other forms of 
the test in another room. No comments were made except that the 
children were asked to add the examples on the paper. The motiva- 



tion was the same as that for an ordinary class exercise. The other 
three groups worked in the same room but under different motivat- 
ing conditions. One group was praised and another reproved. The 
final group heard both the praise and the reproof but was entirely 

Before papers were given out the names of the children in the 
praised group were read aloud and the children asked to come to 





1 2 3 4 5 


DITIONS. (J>ata taken from Hurloc^.) 
A description of the curves is in the text. 

the front of the room and face the class. They were theji praised 
for the excellence of their work on the preceding day as shown by 
improvement, and for their general superiority over the other mem- 
bers of the class. They were encouraged to do even better, to try 
to avoid careless mistakes and to add more problems. After this the 
names of the children in the reproved group were called, and they 
were severely reproved for poor work, careless mistakes, failures to 
improve, and their general inferiority to other members of the 
class. The ignored group, as stated, although hearing the praise 
and the reproof, themselves received no recognition, favorable or 



unfavorable. The contrasting efficacy of the different incentives as 
shown by their influence upon the children's performance, is clearly 
brought out by the curves in Fig. 80. On the second day the praised 
and reproved groups made equal gains,, and both were superior 
to the control group. This confirms the result of the previous ex- 
periment in which there was only one repetition of the test. The 
improvement of the ignored group is midway between that of the 
control and the other groups. On the third, fourth, and fifth days, 
however, the praised group continued to increase its scores while 
the reproved group did not. At the close of the experiment the 
praised group was significantly superior to all the other groups. 
The gains of the reproved and ignored groups, over and above 
the practice gain of the control, were not large enough to give 
high significance to the differences. The praised group is the only 
one with a consistent increase in proficiency from the beginning 
to the end of the experiment. 

After examining differences in performance dependent upon 
age, sex, ability, and other factors Hurlock concludes: "These 
results as a whole point conclusively to the fact that regardless of 
the factors of age, sex, initial ability, or accuracy, praise is decidedly 
the most effective of the three incentives here investigatecL^g^^ 
with CQDJiaaed iis&its effectiveness showed a decided decline. To 

^^^^^^ --"^xii^n^'^ivaHWi^^ A'tCTa3^^ >w ,,,y Br ^^ 

ignore children in a group where the other members are receiv- 
ing some incentive seems to be psychologically bad. The longer 
they are ignored, the less improvement do they show, even in spite 
of the opportunity to improve which comes from continued prac- 
tice in one form of work. Hence, we may conclude that praise is 
the best form of incentive to use, no matter from what angle we 
may regard the matter." 

Hurlock's conclusion favoring praise rather than reproof as an 
incentive cannot, without certain qualifications, be regarded as uni- 
versally valid. For one thing, the degree of praise and reproof was 
not systematically varied, and until this is done one cannot be cer- 
tain that all degrees of praise are superior to all degrees of reproof. 

It is likely, also, that the relative effectiveness of praise and 
reproof varies with circumstances. On the football field, for exam- 
ple, severe reproof of the players for their errors, often in terms 



both forceful and picturesque, is a method which coaches are 
commonly said to employ with success. It may be that this serves 
to counteract the ovations the players receive in the newspapers, the 
applause from the bleachers, and the adoration of fellow-students; 
preventing them from developing what their comrades call the 
"swell-head." Or it may be that reproof engenders anger and a 
hostile attitude which is readily redirected from the coach to the 
opposing team, for anger, as we know, is energizing. Thus, the 
claim that praise is always more effective than reproof runs counter 
to a common practice in the province of competitive sports, which 
lacks experimental support but nevertheless appears to work. 

Again, the relative effectiveness of praise and reproof doubtless 
varies from individual to individual, and from situation to situa- 
tion. We may guess that the degree of effectiveness has some rela- 
tion to the general level of one's self-esteem. If an individual has an 
exalted opinion of himself, a little reproof might release more 
energy than would be yielded by praise. And if, on the other hand, 
a person has a distinct sense of inferiority, praise might be more 
effective in energy-release than reproof. It would be instructive to 
find some accurate method for studying experimentally the effects 
of praise and reproof in relation to self-evaluation, i.e., to the level 
of self-esteem. Until scientifically valid evidence upon this relation- 
ship can be obtained and other studies have been made, it is best 
to be cautious in our generalizations about the effects of praise and 


We have already discussed the role of words in the control of 
behavior (pp. 239-241). This social control of the individual is seen 
most clearly in the phenomena of verbal suggestion. The military 
command, the parent's order to the child, the psychologist's instruc- 
tion to his subject, even the passing comment, are all potent in 
building up neural determinations which lead to action. The word 
can arouse a wish, a purposive set, a fear, or an attitude predispos- 
ing towards or against something. 

In an instructive experiment, Strong studied the effect of positive 
and negative suggestion upon the strength of grip. The subject was 


instructed to squeeze a dynamometer with maximal strength of 
grip. The positive suggestion, when given verbally by the experi- 
menter, was: "Now you can make it stronger than usual." The 
negative suggestion was: "Now you can't make it as strong as 
usual." Positive and negative suggestions were also presented vis- 
ually. Further, auto-suggestion was employed. The subject chose 
between positive and negative suggestions and spoke aloud: "Now 
I can make it stronger than usual," or "Now I can't make it as 
strong as usual." 

The results for three subjects indicate that a positive suggestion 
heightened the strength of grip in every case except with the right 
hand of one subject (both right and left hands were tested). Auto- 
suggestion tended more strongly than the other types to increase 
the maximal grip. Judging from the comments of the subjects, sug- 
gestion had little effect; but dynamometer readings prove the con- 
trary. Suggestion and especially auto-suggestion have something to 
do with the preparatory attentive set. 

Another instance of the effectiveness of verbal suggestion is found 
in the muscle-reading, or the so-called "mind-reading," experiment. 
The author has repeatedly used this demonstration as a parlor trick 
and also at times in the class room. The procedure is as follows: 

In the parlor someone is asked to hide a small object perhaps 
a handkerchief, key, vase, book while the "mind-reader" is out of 
the room. In doing the trick I first ask the subject to hold out his 
hand with the fingers slightly spread. I touch lightly the thumb, 
little finger, and wrist with my own finger tips, keeping the sub- 
ject's hand at a comfortable, natural height. It is necessary to keep 
a definite pressure against the hand of the subject to detect all his 
impulses to move. Having established satisfactory contact I suggest 
that the subject think of the location of the hidden object, stating 
that I am going to move towards it. The suggestion is repeated from 
time to time. After a brief pause I start to move, letting the involun- 
tary impulses from the subject's hand direct the course. Some in- 
dividuals very quickly and quite unconsciously lead the "mind- 
reader" to the spot. Others present difficulties ; they think about the 
object instead of about finding it, and about moving to its location. 
If the subject is slow in leading me to the hidden object, I make 
slight movements with the hand to the right, left, up, and down, 
noting carefully the resistance offered in different directions. The 

4 i8 


line of least resistance to these impressed movements is regularly 
followed. Eventually the hidden object is" found. 

There are various secondary cues which aid the silence and 
holding of the breath when the "mind-reader" is near the object, 
the spontaneous exclamations when it is touched, the glancing 
movement of the eyes towards the position of the concealed body. 
Success in interpreting these cues depends upon practice. 

In the class room a somewhat different plan is needed. One pro- 
cedure is to arrange from five to eight objects in a row in front of 
a long lecture table, then to have a student write upon the black- 
board and erase the name of the one he will think about. This is 
done behind the "mind-reader's" back. The demonstration then 
goes along as in the parlor, repeating with several subjects, if neces- 
sary, until success is attained. After the demonstration the subject 
is asked if he consciously gave the "mind-reader" any help. He 
declares emphatically that he did not. Whatever cues he gave 
were unconscious ones. 

The demonstration illustrates what has been designated ideomotor 
action. William James writes: "We may then lay it down for certain 
that every representation of a movement awakens in some degree 
the actual movement which is its object; and awakens it in a maxi- 
mum degree whenever it is not kept from so doing by an antagonis- 
tic representation present simultaneously to the mind." - 

Suggested Inhibitions. A lecturer once said to his audience: 
"I will give every one in this room a dollar who does not think of 
a red elephant while I count five. Remember, you are not to think 
of a red elephant one, two, three, four, five." Of course, every one 
did think of the red elephant. 

A mother once said to her small son: "Do not touch this pie." 
The negative suggestion put the idea of having some pie into his 
head; a new conflict was brought into existence. Parents should 
realize the importance of controlling behavior positively, so far as 
possible. Instead of "Thou shalt not," suggest a positive substitute; 
offer the boy a toy, a game, almost any definite course of action. 

At one of the open houses of the psychological laboratory at the 
University of Illinois a student rigged up a demonstration of the 
effectiveness of negative suggestion. A box with a peek-hole was 
placed at one end of the hall, above the hole the words: "Do not 
look in here." Inside the box was an illuminated sign with the 



words: "This is to demonstrate the effectiveness of a negative sug- 
gestion." So far as we know every visitor looked in the forbidden 

Although a negative suggestion may lead to the very act which 
is prohibited, it is equally true that it may definitely inhibit the 
action. If the don't of a parent has in the past been reinforced by a 
slap, this don't effectively blocks the child's course of behavior. 

In a demonstration of suggestion a group of subjects were asked 
to stretch out the arm at full length with closed hand. After a 
pause they were told forcibly and seriously that they could not open 
the hand if they tried to do so. Some opened it; but others tried in 
vain, their struggle being apparent in their muscular contractions. 
The prestige of the operator and his skill in handling suggestions 
are important factors in this demonstration. 

Suggestion during Hypnosis. Light hypnosis may be in- 
duced by holding a crystal or other bright object before the eyes 
of the subject, instructing him to fixate it while thinking about 
nothing but going to sleep. Fixation develops eye strain; after a while 
the eyes close and he appears to be asleep. After a few minutes 
the operator says: "Now I shall count three, and when I snap 
my finger you will wake up." The finger is snapped and the 
subject opens his eyes. Probably he states that he was not asleep at 
all, and that he heard clearly everything that happened, but simply 
felt a little tired. The experiment is repeated, however, this time 
with a different suggestion: "When I count three you will try to 
open your eyes but be unable to do so." This is repeated: "When I 
count three you will not be able to open your eyes." After the count- 
ing the subject can be seen struggling to raise his eyelids; the 
brows are raised and the facial muscles strained, but the lids re- 
main closed. Later the operator says: "When I count three and snap 
my finger you will open your eyes and wake up." This is done and 
the subject awakens. 

Under deep hypnosis pain may be eliminated through sugges- 
tion. Limbs have been amputated, babies delivered, without pain, 
during hypnosis. Total or partial blindness can be produced. For 
example, if the operator suggests that Mr. X (one of the witnesses) 
is no longer present in the room, the subject will count those pres- 
ent omitting Mr. X. It is also true that positive hallucinations can 


be aroused through hypnotic suggestion. If told that there is a 
locomotive puffing near by, the subject will act as if he heard it. 
If given an imaginary canoe, he will sit down cautiously and row 
with an imaginary paddle. After a subject awakes he is unable to 
recall what was said and done during the trance. 

Therapeutic Use of Verbal Suggestion. Waking sugges- 
tion is a recognized psychotherapeutic measure. If an individual 
is told emphatically that he is healthy, free from pain and worry, 
and that all is well with himself and the world, these suggestions 
build up in him an attitude conducive to well-being. 

The work of Emile Coue is widely known. He instructed his 
patients to sit down quietly in their rooms whenever they experi- 
enced a pain, to shut the eyes and pass the hand lightly over the 
forehead or other painful part, repeating the words: "It is going, 
it is going, it is going, etc." The essential point in the technique is 
to repeat the words "It is going, it is going, . . ." so quickly and 
frequently that any contrary thought cannot be expressed. When 
one thinks the pain is going it vanishes. If it should return, the 
words "It is going, . . ." are repeated.* 

Imitation. Suggestion, as described in the foregoing account, is 
a process of controlling behavior through words. The spoken word 
is capable of building up a mental set in the individual, or of re- 
straining a purposive determination already in existence. If an 
individual is determined to carry out some course of behavior but 
is inhibited by counter-determinations, the word can often remove 
the blocking and thus release the predetermined action. Words of 
praise and reproof, as we have already seen, may markedly facili- 
tate or inhibit an activity in progress. Thus in all these ways the 
word is a potent instrument of social control. 

There is, however, another kind of social control which is non- 
verbal in nature; it is known as imitation. Conscious or deliberate 
imitation is illustrated by the game of follow-the-leader in which 
the children are set to reproduce the antics of the leading child. 
This kind of imitation is also exemplified by the student of dancing 
who attempts to reproduce the steps of his teacher, and by the 

* For further discussion of suggestion see the excellent work by Hull, reference 28, at the 
close of this chapter. 


violinist who strives to duplicate the tone, accent, phrasing of his 

As distinct from this conscious imitation there is an unconscious 
mimicry clearly seen in the behavior of children and of some ani- 
mals. Not long ago the author's two-year-old daughter met a pant- 
ing dog in the park. Quite spontaneously she opened her mouth 
and breathed with quickened respiration, imitating the panting ani- 
mal. This reaction was repeated several times when other panting 
dogs were encountered. Kohler has printed the picture of a chim- 
panzee climbing a shaky pile of boxes and reaching toward a sus- 
pended banana. On the side line is another chimpanzee observing 
the performance, making a reaching gesture with his arm as if he, 
too, were about to reach out for the fruit. 

When one watches a tight-rope artist one feels himself into the 
situation losing balance, regaining it, walking the rope, finally 
crossing successfully. Again, the spectators at a football game can 
be seen during a long run to make incipient movements toward the 
goal as if they themselves were carrying the ball down the field. 
Finally, when an experienced driver rides on the back seat of an 
auto he automatically presses his foot upon an imaginary brake- 
pedal in the traffic crisis. In all these cases there is an unconscious 
identification of one's self with some other individual and an em- 
pathic duplication of his behavior. 

We copy the gestures and verbal mannerisms of persons who 
have prestige. We imitate their style of dress. We tend to accept 
the attitudes of those with whom we mingle. To a considerable 
degree we are all imitators. 


We defined an attitude as passive mental organization which 
predisposes an individual towards or away from a verbal statement 
(p. 242). When a direct question is asked, the individual expresses 
belief (assent), disbelief (dissent), or doubt (uncertainty). These 
reactions are regulated by the mental organization; they are, in 
fact, the outward indications of existing attitudes. The conceptions 
of belief and attitude are intimately related. Belief or disbelief is 
the expression of attitude; attitude is known only through the be- 
liefs and disbeliefs which are expressed. The question "What deter- 


mines belief? 3 ' is indistinguishable from the question "What deter- 
mines attitude?" 

Primitive Credulity. Years ago Bain made some interesting 
comments about belief. He said that the child is credulous, believ- 
ing what he is told unless there is some reason to doubt it. This 
fact Bain referred to as "primitive credulity." The genuineness of 
Santa Glaus, the truth of biblical stories, the authenticity of the 
stork legend or the doctorVbag story, the accuracy of all the ex- 
planations given him by his elders, are taken for granted by the 
child. It is only when some incompatible statement is made that 
doubt arises. 

Man likes to regard himself as a rational creature and to assume 
that his beliefs are based upon direct observation and reflection. 
This is in part correct. My own belief that the full moon appeared 
last night is based upon observation, direct experience. All of us, 
however, accept statements on authority. It is not the child alone 
who assents to the beliefs that his parents have held; nor only the 
young pupil who accepts with little questioning the beliefs of his 
teacher and the statements of his textbook. For the layman, what- 
ever is printed in a book is likely to be believed. Even the daily 
newspapers represent authority to the masses, and their printed 
words control attitudes and hence behavior on many matters. 

Belief and Desire. When a transatlantic airplane, long over- 
due, has not been heard from, the wife of the pilot affirms her 
belief that her husband is safe. In bereavement, especially when it 
comes suddenly, the bereaved individual refuses to believe that the 
loved one is dead. The craving for the return and continued exist- 
ence of the one lost determines a belief which to an outsider may 
appear wholly irrational. 

In an interesting experiment by Lund a set of thirty questions 
was drawn up, dealing with topics of general interest in the fields 
of religion, ethics, politics, and science. Several groups of subjects 
(243 in all) were asked to indicate the strength of their belief or 
disbelief of these items by referring to a belief scale with twenty 
steps. This scale had a positive and a negative side; it ranged from 
plus ten through zero to minus ten. After completing these ratings 
for strength of belief, the subjects were asked to rate the same ques- 


tions again on a scale of desire. They estimated the degree to which 

they desired the content of the items to be true or not true. The 
rating scales are given below. 


io.l io.| 

9. [Belief allowing for no doubt. 9. mighly desirable. 

8.J 8.J 

7-) 7-j 

6. f-Fairty strong belief. 6. [Quite desirable. 

5-J 5-J 

4-] . . 4-] 

3. plight belief an element of doubt. 3. ? Somewhat desirable. 

1.J 2..J 

o. [Absence of both belief and disbelief. o. j- Indifferent. 

-i.j -i.j 

V \ Somewhat inclined toward disbelief, v [Somewhat undesirable. 
-4-J -4-j 

-5-) . . . -5-j 

6. r Fairly strong disbelief. 6. hQuite undesirable. 

-7-j -7-j 

9. ^Disbelief allowing for no doubt. 9. j-Highly undesirable. 
lo.j io. ] 

The thirty questions which were judged in terms of belief and 
again in terms of desire are reproduced in the following list. 

1. Was Lincoln an honest and upright man? 

2. Is a democracy the best form of government? 

3. Does a black cat crossing your path cause bad luck ? 

4. Were the higher forms of life derived from the lower forms 
through a gradual process of evolutionary growth? 

5. Will the death penalty for murder always be held justifiable 
among civilized peoples? 

6. Did the whale swallow Jonah? 


7. Do molecules exist? 

8. Did Shakespeare write "The Merchant of Venice"? 

9. Is Christianity losing its influence in this country? 

10. Is the earth practically round? 

11. Do only the good die young? 

12. Is slander wrong? 

13. Are there other beings besides myself? 

14. Will monogamous marriage continue to be the only socially 
accepted relation between the sexes ? 

15. Will our Republic continue to exist a hundred years from 

16. Should all men have equal political rights? 

17. Do air vibrations constitute the stimulus for hearing ? 

1 8. Does death end personal existence? 

19. Is morality a man-made institution.? 

20. Do two plus two equal four ? 

21. Is a man's conduct determined entirely by his heredity and 
environment ? 

22. Did the world come into existence through the creative act 
of a divine being? 

23. Does the earth travel around the sun? 

24. Is the protective tariff a wise policy for the United States ? 

25. Do animals have feelings similar to our own? 

26. Is the sun the source of light ? 

27. Do any landscape paintings yield as much satisfaction as the 
finest natural scenery? 

28. Is the Golden Rule a practicable concept in business relations ? 

29. Will traffic in liquor ever be entirely abandoned? 

30. Did the dinosaur ever exist? 

The ratings made it possible to determine the relation between 
belief in the truth or falsity of a statement, on the one hand, and 
desire that the proposition be true, on the other. The graphic rep- 
resentation of results in Fig. 81 demonstrates a very high degree of 
agreement between the two ratings. That is to say, there was a 
marked tendency for the belief in a given statement to be attended 
by a desire of the same relative strength that the proposition be 
true. The correlation coefficient was + 0.81. Another set of proposi- 
tions (selected for a different purpose) gave a coefficient of + 0.76 



between belief and desire. These relationships are interesting even 
though it cannot be claimed that they explain anything. 

The Pathology of Belief. In a very readable essay, Delusion 
and Belief, Campbell points out that no sharp line can be drawn 
between normal belief and what a psychiatrist calls delusion. Inas- 
much as the psychiatric cases throw light upon the bases of normal 
belief, a few illustrations will be cited. 




















I \ 
I 1 


20 13 1 8 102326 12 7 17 2 1522 14252824 4 3019 1821 16 6 29 5 9 27 3 11 


The twenty-point scale of belief and of desire is shown on the vertical at the left. The 
numbers beneath the base line designate the propositions judged. Average ratings for the 
group of subjects are plotted. The propositions are ranked in a descending order of belief 
(solid line), and the corresponding degree of desire for each one is shown (dash line). 

A woman in the prime of life was suddenly bereft of her mother. 
"After her mother's death she would go every evening to the 
mother's room and sit in her chair. She would have to sit in the 
room for at least ten minutes before she would hear her mother's 
voice; and then, as her mother would talk, she seemed to see her 
lying in bed just as she was before her death. The daughter would 
go to her mother's door every night to bid her good-night, and 
would frequently go into the room and sleep for some time and 


feel comfort and relief from these visits to the room which still 
seemed inhabited by the spirit of her mother." 

This is a borderline case in which the reactions are merely ex- 
aggerations of the normal ones to bereavement. The biological urge 
to live, the wholly irrational longing to continue existence in some 
form or other, is probably the basis for the belief in individual im- 
mortality. In the face of death this belief satisfies a want; for the 
individual facing the world it serves as an instrument of adjust- 

Another case, also involving hallucinations, is the following: "An 
unmarried woman of sixty-four began to be disturbed by finding 
that she was the object of attention of various men whom, as a mat- 
ter of fact, she did not see and whom she could not identify. Voices, 
however, said they wanted her. She heard the voices of the plotters 
arranging to take her away in a yacht. Young millionaires in auto- 
mobiles kept circling around her place of residence. She was so 
much afraid of being abducted and carried away in the yacht that 
she appealed to the police for protection. The patient claimed that 
she had seen God, the Virgin Mary, and the angels, and felt that 
this was not insanity but was a gift given her." 

Unlike the previous case this woman was obviously psychotic, 
but the form taken by her delusion can be explained on the basis 
of normal wishes which have long remained unsatisfied. The ab- 
normal experience resembles a normal day-dream, but with this 
important difference: the psychotic patient accepts all these fanciful 
experiences as reality, whereas the day-dreamer knows that he is 
imagining things. 

The longing for children is a desire which molds one's beliefs. 
A childless woman "astonished her husband one day by saying 
that she was going to the doctor to demand her child, and said that 
she was sure that this doctor, many years ago, had taken away her 
baby. She claimed that she had recently seen her baby, now grown 
to boyhood. As she gave fuller rein to her imagination and became 
less critical, she claimed that she had had a series of children." 
This case is also psychotic, but based upon a normal desire. 

The craving for power and prestige is basic in human nature. 
When an individual faces inferior qualities in himself, compensa- 
tory reactions are set up. Note the following case: "A young man 


with complete self-confidence, unable to see any abnormality in his 
own mental condition, erroneously thought that his father had a 
mental disorder, and that those in his environment were immoral. 
He felt that he had ability and power to advise the community, 
and he published a pamphlet on health and other pamphlets on 
love. The pamphlet on health 'guarantees cure in any non-epidemic 
disease and assures to you long life and health by easy method.' 
In the other pamphlets he gives dogmatically his views about love, 
courtship, and marriage, and gives advice in a somewhat preten- 
tious way to those who are about to marry. The self-satisfied and 
superior attitude of the individual, accusing those around him and 
posing as a leader, is in striking contrast with his actual personal 
limitations. From early years he had suffered from deafness; pul- 
monary tuberculosis and a mental upset had put an end to his col- 
lege training. On restoration to physical health, he had carried on 
unskilled work or lived with his people. The strong desire for suc- 
cess which inspired him was not quenched' by the actual situation. 
He felt that success must be his, and with no training or compe- 
tence in regard to dietetics, he felt that/his individual experience 
entitled him to lay down the law on the subject, and published his 
pamphlet which guaranteed long life and health. He attributed 
such importance to his views that he referred to them as likely to 
upset and revolutionize present medical science." 

The above cases show in a striking way how an unsatisfied crav- 
ing develops a compensatory belief. An individual's attitude literally 
mafas the conscious field what it is, in the normal as well as in the 
abnormal sphere. Whole ranges of belief rest upon non-rational 

In the present connection a basic psychological principle should 
be mentioned. The subjective certainty which an individual experi- 
ences in regard to the truth or falsity of any proposition is relative 
to his own attitudes. This is obviously true for delusions. It is equally 
true for normal beliefs in the fields of religion, morals, politics, 
philosophy; even men of science hold to their views with conviction. 

Determinants of Belief. Lund investigated the factors men- 
tioned by his subjects as belief determinants. On the basis of the 
study he selected the following list of factors as being important in 
determining belief. 



A. Public Opinion. 

Beliefs fostered through a general attitude of acceptance by 
people at large. 

B. Personal Reasoning. 

Acceptance determined by a rational process, a definite 
"thinking it out/' 

C. Desire and Satisfyingness. 

Beliefs embraced because they satisfy or embody conditions 
that are desired. 

D. Teaching and Training. 

Belief conditioned by instruction received at home, through 
the church, school, or similar institutions. 

E. Axiomatic Principle. 

Principles which cannot be doubted, being imperative in 
commanding belief. 

F. Personal Opinion. 

Beliefs for which no real account can be given except that 
one thinks they are so. 

G. Personal Experience. 

Acceptance engendered through sensory experience or ob- 
H. Authoritative Opinion. 

Acceptance determined by the prestige given through official 
or authoritative attestation. 

This list indicates that the determinants of belief are both rational 
and non-rational. Experience and observation (G), reasoning (B), 
are rational bases for belief. Perhaps also self-evidence (E) should 
be regarded as a rational factor. But apart from these the remain- 
ing grounds for assent contain a large non-rational element. We 
have beliefs for which we can give no explanation (F). We assent 
because others do (A); we believe what we desire to be true and 
what satisfies us (C) ; we agree to what we are taught in the home, 
church, school (D); especially do we believe the opinions which 
are expressed by persons with prestige (H). Thus our attitudes are 
formed not only through the senses and the intellectual processes, 
but also by our wishes and by other non-rational determinants, 


The human individual is a dynamic organism embedded within 
a social environment. To a high degree his biological appetites find 



their satisfaction through cooperative work with other individuals 
of the group. Thus men cooperate in producing and distributing 
food, clothing, coal, and the other goods which satisfy human 

In seeking to satisfy his biological needs and to gratify his every 
whim the individual must-^ommunicate with others. The socialized 
man controls others by speaking7~or3ering, instructing, suggesting. 
Through words and gestures he builds up attitudes and purposive 
determinations. Words can facilitate or inhibit an activity in prog- 
ress; they can release mental blockings so that an individual is left 
free to act. Words of praise and reproof can energize the individual 
who is embarked upon some course of action. Words, therefore, are 
potent instruments of social control. 

Power, dominance, standing, prestige, or whatever you call it, can 
be measured in terms of one's ability to control his social environ- 
ment. Whatever impresses an individual with his own inadequacy 
or failure is typically reacted to with compensatory behavior, aimed 
at gaining standing or prestige. The urge to excel is found in every 
sphere of activity physical, intellectual, economic, moral, and all 

Viewed from the standpoint of motivation, therefore, the social 
environment is highly important. This environment is not con- 
ceived as something distinct and apart from the physical, but rather 
as one aspect of the total external situation. The human social en- 
vironment is made up of persons and the total stimulations an in- 
dividual receives from them; to some extent it contains the mani- 
fold products of human activity. Social motivation is the process 
by which energy is released and its expenditure directed or chan- 
neled by factors within the social environment. 

Social motivation; prestige 

1. ADLER, A. The neurotic constitution, outlines of a comparative individualistic 

psychology and psychotherapy. Trans. B. GLUECK and J. E. LIND. New 
York; Moflfat, Yard and Co., 1917. Pp. xxvi + 456. 

2. BAGBY, E. The psychology of personality, an analysis of common emotional 

disorders. New York: Holt, 1928. Pp. viii + 236. 

3. DICKINSON, Z. C. Economic motives, a study in the psychological foundations 



of economic theory, with some reference to other social sciences. Cambridge: 
Harvard Univ. Press, 1922. Pp. x + 304. 

4. Go WIN, E. B. The executive and his control of men, a study in personal effi- 

ciency. New York: Macmillan, 1927. (New ed.) Pp. xvi -f- 349. 

5. PERRIN, F. A. C. The psychology of motivation. Psychol. Rev., 1923, 30, 176- 


6. PERRIN, F. A. C. Psychology, its methods and principles. New York: Holt, 

1932. Pp. xii -f 336. 

7. WATSON, J. B. Psychology from the standpoint of a behaviorist. Philadelphia: 

Lippincott, 1929. (3rd ed.) Pp. xvii + 458. 

Effect of a group; competition and rivalry 

8. ALLPORT, F. H. The influence of the group upon association and thought. 

/. Exper. Psychol., 1920, 3, 159-182. 

9. DASHIELL, J. F. An experimental analysis of some group effects. /. Abn. & 

Soc. PsychoL, 1930, 25, 190-200. 

10. GREENBERG, P. J. Competition in children, an experimental study. Amer. J. 

PsychoL, 1932, 44, 221-248. 

11. HURI-OCK, E. B. The use of group rivalry as an incentive. /. Abn. & Soc. 

PsychoL, 1927, 22, 278-290. 

12. MALLER, J. B. Cooperation and competition, an experimental study in motiva- 

tion. Columbia Univ. Contrib. to Educ., No. 384. New York: Columbia 
Univ., 1929. Pp. x + 176. 

13. MAYER, A. Uber Einzel- und Gesamtleistung des Schulkindes. Arch. f. d. ges. 

PsychoL, 1903, i, 276-416. 

14. MOEDE, W, Der Wetteifer, seine Struktur und sein Ausmasz. Zeits. f. Pad. 

PsychoL, 1914, 15, 353-368. 

15. SIMS, V. M. The relatiye influence of two types of motivation on improvement. 

/. Educ. PsychoL, 1928, 19, 480-484. 

16. TRAVIS, L. E. The influence of the group upon the stutterer's speed in free 

association. /. Abn. & Soc. PsychoL, 1928, 23, 45-51. 

17. TRIPLETT, N. The dynamogenic factors in pacemaking and competition. 

Amer. J. PsychoL, 1898, 9, 507-533. 

1 8. WHITTEMORE, I. C. The influence of competition on performance, an experi- 

mental study. /. Abn. & Soc. PsychoL, 1924, 19, 236-253. See also ibid., 
1925, 20, 17-33. 

19. ZUBIN, J. Some effects of incentives, a study of individual differences in rivalry. 

Columbia Univ. Contrib. to Educ., No. 532. New York: Columbia Univ., 
1932. Pp. 60. 

Praise and reproof 

20. BRIGGS, T. H. Praise and censure as incentives. School & Society, 1927, 26, 


21. GATES, G. S., and RISSLAND, L. Q. The effect of encouragement and of dis- 

couragement upon performance. /. Educ. Psychol., 1923, 14, 21-26. 


22. GILCHRIST, E. P. The extent to which praise and reproof affect a pupil's work. 

School & Society, 1916, 4, 872-874. 

23. HURLOCK, E. B. The value of praise and reproof as incentives for children. 

Arch. PsychoL, 1924, u, No. 71. Pp. 78. 

24. HURLOCK, E. B. An evaluation of certain incentives used in school work. 

/. Educ. PsychoL, 1925, 16, 145-159. 

Suggestion and imitation; determinants of belief 

25. BAIN, A. The emotions and the will. New York: Appleton, 1888. (3rd ed.) 

Pp. xxxii + 604. 

26. CAMPBELL, C. M. Delusion and belief. Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 

1926. Pp. 79. 

27. COUE, E. Self mastery through conscious autosuggestion. New York: Amer. 

Library Service, 1932. Pp. 93. 

28. HULL, C. L. Hypnosis and suggestibility, an experimental approach. New 

York: Appleton-Century, 1933. Pp. xiv + 416. 

29. JAMES, W. The principles of psychology. New York: Holt, 1913. Vol. 2. 

Pp. vi + 74- 

30. JASTROW, J. The psychology of conviction, a study of beliefs and attitudes. 

Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1918. Pp. xx + 381. 

31. KOHLER, W. The mentality of apes. Trans. E. WINTER. New York: Harcourt, 

Brace and Co., 1925. Pp. viii + 342. 

32. LANGFELD, H. S. Voluntary movement under positive and negative instruction. 

PsychoL Rev., 1913, 20, 459-478. 

33. LUND, F. H. The psychology of belief. Jour. Abn. & Soc. PsychoL, 1925-1926, 

20, 63-81; 174-196. 

34. STRONG, E. K. The effect of various types of suggestion upon muscular activity. 

PsychoL Rev., 1910, 17, 279-293. 

35. TOWN, C. H. Suggestion. PsychoL Bull., 1921, 18, 366-375. (A review of 


36. VAUGHN, J. Positive versus negative instruction, an experimental study of the 

effects of various types of instruction on behavior. Publications of the na- 
tional bureau of casualty and surety underwriters, Educational Series, Vol. II, 
1928. New York: National Bureau of Casualty and Surety Underwriters. 
Pp. viii -f 172. 

37. WOLFE, A. B. The motivation of radicalism. PsychoL Rev., 1921, 28, 280-300. 

The topics considered in the present chapter can be pursued through the textbooks 
of social psychology. Several of the standard texts are listed below. 

38. ALLPORT, F. H. Social psychology. Boston: Houghton MiiHin, 1924. Pp. 

xiv + 453. Part II. 

39. McDouGALL, W. An introduction to social psychology. Boston: John Luce and 

Co., 1926. Pp. viii + 520. 

40. MURCHISON, C. A handboo^ of social psychology. Worcester, Mass.: Clark 

Univ. Press, 1935. Pp. xii + 1195. 


41. MURPHY, G. and L. B. Experimental svcial psychology. New York: Harpers, 

1931. Pp. ix + 709. Chapters 8, 9, ir. 

42. YOUNG, K. Source book. f or soc ' lct ^ psychology. New York: Alfred Knopf, 1927. 

Pp. xxviii + 844. 

43. YOUNG, K. Social psychology, an analysis of social behavior. New York: 

Crofts, 1930. Pp. xviil + 674 + xxi. 


"One of the most important lessons of experience is learning to 
distinguish between the facts of observation and the inferences 
drawn from those facts." 


In 1806 John Coulter was returning from Oregon with Lewis 
and Clark.* He stopped at the Missouri river to hunt and trap. 
At the time he was thirty-five years old, five feet ten inches tall, a 
typical western pioneer somewhat like Daniel Boone. 

He and his companion Potts were proceeding up the Jefferson 
river (the most western of the three forks of the Missouri) each in 
his canoe. Suddenly a war party of about 800 Black-Feet Indians 
appeared on the east bank. The chiefs ordered them to come ashore. 
Coulter obeyed, feeling that flight was useless and hoping for 
robbery only (he had dropped his traps into the shallow river). 
He was seized, disarmed, and stripped, Potts refused to come ashore. 
He was shot in the hip by an Indian, falling, then quickly rising 
and shooting an Indian dead, In an instant a hundred bullets pierced 
hi body. Many savages rushed into the stream, and pulled the canoe 
ashore. They dragged the body up onto the bank and with hatchets 
and knives hacked and cut it to pieces. The entrails, heart, lungs, 
etc., they threw into Coulter's face. 

The relatives of the killed Indian were enraged and struggled, 
tomahawk in hand, to reach Coulter, the others holding them back. 
He was expecting every moment the death blow or fatal shot. A 
council was hastily held to determine his fate. He expected to die 
by the tomahawk, a slow, lingering, horrible death. 

They had magnanimously determined to give him a chance, 

* This illustration was used f>y W. B. Cannon in his classic work upon emotion, but it is 
here quoted with slight modifications from the original source; James, General Thomas, 
Three years qmong the Indians and Mexicans. Publ, by Missouri Historical Society, 1916. 



though a slight one., for his life. After council, the chief pointed to 
the prairie and motioned him away with his hand, saying in Crow 
language "Go go away." He supposed they intended to shoot as 
soon as he was out of the crowd and presented a fair mark to their 
guns. He started in a walk. The old Indian gave impatient signs 
and exclamations and told him to go faster, and again repeated 
with more violent gestures as he still walked. 

When he had gone a distance of eighty or a hundred yards 
from the army of his enemies he saw the younger Indians throw- 
ing off their blankets, leggings and other incumbrances as if for a 
race. Now he knew their object. He was to run a race, of which 
the prize was to be his own life and scalp. Off he started with the 
speed of the wind. The war whoop immediately arose; and looking 
back, he saw a large company of young warriors, with spears, in 
rapid pursuit. He ran with all the speed that nature, excited to the 
utmost, could give; fear and hope lent a supernatural vigor to his 
limbs, and the rapidity of his flight astonished himself. 

The Madison Fork lay directly before him, five miles from his 
starting place. He had run half the distance when his strength be- 
gan to fail and the blood to gush from his nostrils. At every leap a 
red stream spurted before him, and his limbs were growing rapidly 
weaker and weaker. He stopped and looked back; he had far out- 
stripped all his pursuers and could get off if strength would only 
hold out. 

One solitary Indian, far ahead of the others, was rapidly ap- 
proaching, with a spear in his right hand, and a blanket streaming 
behind from his left hand and shoulder. Despairing of escape, 
Coulter awaited his pursuer and called to him in the Crow lan- 
guage, to save his life. The savage did not seem to hear him, but 
letting go his blanket, and seizing his spear with both hands, he 
rushed at Coulter, naked and defenseless as he stood before him, 
and made a desperate lunge to transfix him. Coulter seized the 
spear, near the head, with his right hand, and exerting his whole 
strength, aided by the weight of the falling Indian, who had lost 
his balance in the fury of the onset, he broke off the iron head or 
blade which remained in his hand, while the savage fell to the 
ground and lay prostrate and disarmed before him. 

Now was his turn to beg for his life, which he did in the Crow 
language, and held up his hands imploringly, but Coulter was not 
in a mood to remember the golden rule, and pinned his adversary 


through the body to the earth by one stab with the spear head. He 
quickly drew the weapon from the body of the now dying Indian, 
and seizing his blanket as lawful spoil, he again set out with re- 
newed strength, feeling, he said to me, as if he had not run a mile. 
A shout and yell arose from the pursuing, army in his rear as from 
a legion of devils, and he saw the prairie behind him covered with 
Indians in full and rapid chase. Before him, if anywhere, was life 
and safety; behind him certain death; and running as never man 
before sped the foot, except perhaps, at the Olympic games, he 
reached his goal, the Madison river and the end of his five mile 

Dashing through the willows on the bank he plunged into the 
stream and saw close beside him a beaver house, standing like a 
coal-pit about ten feet above the surface of the water, which was 
here of about the same depth. This presented to him a refuge from 
his ferocious enemies of which he immediately availed himself. 
Diving under the water he arose into the beaver house, where he 
found a dry and comfortable resting place on the upper floor or 
story of this singular structure. 

The Indians came up, searching for him, and even stood on the 
roof of his refuge. He feared they would break it open or set fire 
to it but they did not. Then they crossed over the river and he rested 
dry, till night. 

The cries of his terrible enemies died away in the distance. All 
was still. He ventured out (under water again). He swam the river 
and hastened toward the mountain gap thirty miles above on the 
river. Fearing the Indians might have guarded this pass (the only 
outlet from the valley), Cbulter ascended the almost perpendicular 
mountain before him, the top and sides of which a great way down, 
were covered with perpetual snow. He clambered up this fearful 
ascent about four miles below the gap, holding on by the rocks, 
shrubs and branches of trees and by morning had reached the top. 

He lay concealed all day. At night he proceeded in the descent 
of the mountain, then on three hundred miles over the plain toward 
the Fort. He traveled day and night, stopping only for necessary 
repose, and eating roots and the bark of trees, for eleven days. He 
reached the Fort, nearly exhausted by hunger, fatigue and excite- 
ment. The blanket was his only clothing, the spear head his only 

His beard was long, his face and whole body were thin and 
emaciated by hunger, and his limbs and feet swollen and sore. The. 



company at the Fort did not recognize him in this dismal plight 
until ha made himself known. Coulter now with me passed over 
the scene of his capture and wonderful escape^ and described his 
emotions during the whole adventure with great minuteness. Not 
the least -of his exploits was the scaling of the mountain, which 
seemed to me impassable even by a mountain goat. As I looked at 
its rugged and perpendicular sides I wondered how he ever reached 
the top a feat probably never performed before by mortal man. 
The whole affair is a fine example of the quick and ready thought- 
fulness and presence of mind in a desperate situation, and the 
power of endurance, which characterized the western pioneer, 

The almost superhuman exploit described above can be duplicated 
from stories of exploration, adventure, and war. In times of strenu- 
ous activity the organism' is able to mobilize stores of energy which 
under normal conditions are latent. Even if we allow generously 
for the universal desire to tell a good story, the fundamental truth 
remains that there is an increased energizing of the organism dur- 
ing the stress of an emergency. 

In his delightful essay upon the Energies of Men, William James 
wrote that there are within us reservoirs of energy: 

The existence of reservoirs of energy that habitually are not 
tapped is most familiar to us in the phenomenon of "second wind." 
Ordinarily we stop when we meet the first effective layer, so to call 
it, of fatigue. We have then walked, played, or worked "enough," 
and desist, That amount of fatigue is an efficacious obstruction, on 
this side of which our usual life is cast. But if an unusual necessity 
forces us to press onward, a surprising thing occurs. The fatigue 
gets worse up to a certain critical point, when gradually or suddenly 
it passes away, *aiid we are fresher than before. We have evidently 
tapped a level of new energy, masked until then by the fatigue- 
obstacle usually obeyed. There may be layer after layer of this ex- 
perience. A third and a fourth "wind" may supervene. Mental ac- 
tivity shows the phenomenon as well as physical, and in exceptional 
cases we may find, beyond the very extremity of fatigue distress, 
amounts of ease and power that we never dreamed ourselves to 
own, sources of strength habitually not taxed at all, because habit- 
ually we never push through the obstruction, never pass those early 
critical points. 




There are two seemingly opposed views regarding the signifi- 
cance of emotional reactions. One of these regards emotion as an 
integrated, biologically serviceable form of activity; the other as a 
disruption or disorganization of behavior. These views will now be 
considered in some detail 

Emotional Reactions as Adaptive. The great Darwin, who 
was a pioneer in the study of emotional expression, claimed that 
emotional processes are archaic or primordial types of behavior 
which must be interpreted in the light of biological evolution. 
Darwin believed that many reactions, emotional as well as non- 
emotional, are vestiges of formerly useful acts, reversions to an 
earlier pattern. Just as there are vestigial organs in the body so there 
are behavior patterns which hold over from early biological activity. 
An example of behavioral atavism which is non-emotional in char- 
acter follows. The dog turns around several times before lying 
down on the parlor floor. The act is apparently senseless, but it can 
be interpreted, Darwin believed, by reference to the past. The bio- 
logical ancestors of the dog were wolflike creatures which had to 
trample down a bed on the grassy plains before lying down for 
rest and sleep. On the hardwood floor of a parlor this formerly 
adaptive act is meaningless, but it can be understood by reference 
to its serviceableness in the remote past. 

A good many of the expressions of emotion, according to Darwin, 
are responses which are biologically adaptive under former cir- 
cumstances. For example: "Kittens, puppies, young pigs and prob- 
ably many other young animals, alternately push with their fore- 
feet against the mammary glands of their mothers, to excite a freer 
secretion of milk, or to make it flow. Now it is very common with 
young cats, and not at all rare with old cats of the common and 
Persian breeds . . . when comfortably lying on a warm shawl or 
other soft substance, to pound it quietly and alternately with their 
fore-feet; their toes being spread out and claws slightly protruded, 
precisely as when sucking their mother. That it is the same move- 
ment is clearly shown by their often at the same time taking a bit 
of the shawl into their mouths and sucking it; generally closing 
their eyes and purring from delight. This curious movement is com- 


monly excited only In association with the sensation of a warm 
soft surface; but I have seen an old cat, when pleased by having its 
back scratched, pounding the air with its feet in the same manner; 
so that this action has almost become the expression of a pleasur- 
able sensation." 

The modern psychologist would attempt to determine how far 
the foot and toe movements associated with sucking had been ac- 
quired through conditioning, and how far they were innately deter- 
mined. Apart from this problem Darwin's principle remains: some 
apparently useless responses were useful at an earlier stage of de- 

Darwin further claimed that the -facial expressions of the emo- 
tions can be explained by referring to biologically useful reactions 
such as shading the eyes from light, dilating the nostrils for easier 
breathing and olfaction, preparing the teeth for biting and the 
mouth for mastication. The utility of these changes in the facial 
muscles is obscured under present-day conditions, but from the 
evolutionary standpoint their former serviceableness is quite appar- 

Crile is among the more modern writers who have accepted the 
Darwinian point of view towards emotional behavior. Emotion, he 
believes, is to be understood in terms of "phylogenetic association." 
For example, throughout the course of evolution, bodily injury has 
been repeatedly associated with painful struggles; this association 
has become firmly built into the bodily structure of the present-day 
organism. Fear is phylogenetically associated with running away 
from danger. Anger is associated biologically with an attack to 
vanquish opposition. Love, from the evolutionary standpoint, is 
related to copulation and care of the young. When any one of these 
basic activities is called into play an emotion appears both in the facial 
expression and in gross behavior. Even though the emotional re- 
sponse is useless at the time it is evoked, and even though the ex- 
pression is incomplete, inhibited, or distorted by conventional 
requirements of the social group (e.g., not to cry in public) these 
fundamental emotional processes can still be interpreted in the light 
of their original biological setting. 

Craig has supplemented Darwin's hypothesis by pointing out that 
emotional reactions are socially and psychologically significant. Ex- 


pressive behavior, he states, is important because it is perceived and 
understood by other individuals. Emotional reactions are useful 
as a means of communication, and for the control of one indi- 
vidual by another; they have developed as adaptations toward this 
end. The vocal cords and other muscles of expression have been 
evolved on account of their usefulness in the process of controlling 
other members of the social group. "The cat with her back up, her 
tail thickened, and with spitting and growling, tells her tormentor, 
more forcefully than words could tell it, that she is ready to scratch 
and bite." 

The expression of human and animal emotion was explained by 
Darwin in terms of three principles. The first, which he referred 
to as the principle of serviceable associated habits, has been de- 
scribed above; it stresses the biological utility of emotional behavior. 
The second, which he designated the principle of antithesis, is re- 
lated to the first. 

The principle of antithesis is simply that opposite emotions such 
as anger and joy have opposed expressions. When a pattern of 
emotional reaction has been firmly established, Darwin believed, 
it is natural that actions of a directly opposite kind, even though 
useless, should be performed unconsciously under the opposite emo- 
tional state. For example: 

When a dog approaches a strange dog or man in a savage or 
hostile frame of mind he walks upright and very stiffly; his head is 
slightly raised, or not much lowered; the tail is held erect and quite 
rigid; the hairs bristle, especially along the neck and back; the 
pricked ears are directed forwards, and the eyes have a fixed stare. 
[Darwin illustrates with pictures.] These actions, as will hereafter 
be explained, follow from the dog's intention to attack his enemy, 
and are thus to a large extent intelligible. As he prepares to spring 
with a savage growl on his enemy, the canine teeth are uncovered, 
and the ears are pressed close backwards on the head; but with 
these latter actions, we are not here concerned. Let us now suppose 
that the dog suddenly discovers that the man he is approaching, is 
not a stranger, but his master; and let it be observed how com- 
pletely and instantaneously his whole bearing is reversed. Instead 
of walking upright, the body sinks downwards or even crouches, 
and is thrown into flexuous movements; his tail, instead of being 


held stiff and upright, is lowered and wagged from side to side; 
his hair instantly becomes smooth; his ears are depressed and drawn 
backwards, but not closely to the head; and his lips hang loosely. 
From the drawing back of the ears, the eyelids become elongated, 
and the eyes no longer appear round and staring. It should be 
added that the animal is at such times in an excited condition of 
joy, and nerve-force will be generated in excess, which naturally 
leads to action of some kind. Not one of the above movements, so 
clearly expressive of affection, is of the least direct service to the 
animal. They are explicable, so far as I can see, solely from being 
in complete opposition or antithesis to the attitude and movements 
which, from intelligible causes, are assumed when a dog intends 
to fight, and which consequently are expressive of anger. 

The principle of antithesis is descriptive rather than explanatory. 
It describes the observed opposition between expressions of joy and 
of hostility. Allport has suggested that this antithesis applies not so 
much to total emotional patterns as to their affective components 
the contrast between pleasant and unpleasant reactions. 

According to Craig, one should view antithesis in the light of 
social interaction and communication. To illustrate, when a dog is 
prepared for attack, his bodily posture and behavior are readily 
understood by other animals as well as man. Now the inhibition of 
this hostility-set is accomplished by an antagonistic reaction which 
communicates to others the absence of a hostile determination, i.e., 
friendliness. If the antagonistic set merely counterbalanced the hos- 
tile reaction, the dog's behavior would be indifferent, but there is 
generally an overcompensating which gives the familiar pattern of 
friendly behavior. In line with this thought, Darwin wrote: "Man 
himself cannot express love and humility by external signs, so 
plainly as does a dog, when with drooping ears, hanging lips, flexu- 
ous body, and wagging tail, he meets his beloved master." 

The dog did not invent the emotional expressions, nor does he 
clearly understand what is happening when he uses them. In human 
communication, however, emotional expressions of the facial mus- 
cles are controlled and modified voluntarily. They are employed as 
are words and non-emotional gestures to convey meaning. 

Darwin recognized that the two foregoing principles of emo- 
tional expression were not fully adequate to account for all the 



facts. In addition to the principle of serviceable associated habits 
and the principle of antithesis, Darwin described as follows a third: 
(f principle of actions due to the constitution of the nervous system, 
independently from the first of the mil, and independently to a 
certain extent of habit!' Examples of bodily changes explainable 
by the third principle are: the loss of color in the hair during terror, 
trembling in fear, gnashing of the teeth and writhing in agony, 
clapping the hands and jumping up and down in joy. 

The third principle frankly recognizes that some emotional ex- 
pressions are useless. They can be interpreted only by an appeal to 
the constitution of the nervous system apart from all utility and 
apart from antithesis to biologically useful or formerly useful acts. 

Emotional Reactions as Disruptive. The view that an 
emotion is a disorganization of coordinated behavior has been 
widely held by psychologists. Thus, in the context of -emotion Wat- 
son writes: "There would seem to be no question, but that the 
immediate effect of the exciting stimuli upon organized activity 
... is always disruptive. If an individual is preparing a lecture or 
writing a book or rendering a musical selection, any strong emo- 
tional stimulus at least temporarily disrupts and blocks the organ- 
ized activity." 

Again, Claparede writes: "Emotions occur precisely when adap- 
tation is hindered for any reason whatever. The man who can run 
away does not have the emotion of fear. Fear occurs only when 
flight is impossible. Anger is displayed only when one cannot strike 
his enemy. . . . The uselessness, or even the harmfulness of emo- 
tion, is known to everyone. Here is an individual who would cross 
a street; if he is afraid of automobiles, he loses his composure and 
is run over. Sorrow, joy, anger, by enfeebling attention or judgment, 
often make us commit regrettable acts. In brief, the individual, in 
the grip of an emotion loses his head. 5 " 

In keeping with the view that emotion is a disorganization of 
behavior is the fact that fear and anger retard the process of habit 
formation. This is known to be true both with man and many varie- 
ties of animals. In the case of the frog, Yerkes wrote: "A certain 
amount of excitement undoubtedly promotes the formation of asso- 
ciations, but when the animal is frightened the opposite is true. I 
have no hesitation in stating that, in the case of the green frog, 


any strong disturbing stimulus retards the formation of associations. 
. . . Quiescence, it is to be remembered, is as frequently a sign of 
fear as is movement, and one is never safe in saying that the frog 
is not disturbed just because it does not jump." 

Higginson has reported that anger and fear disturb the process 
of maze learning in the rat. Anger was aroused by pinching the 
rat's tail and stimulating the nose. Fear was induced by placing the 
rat inside a cage with a cat, the rat being confined to a smaller 
inner compartment. Immediately after the emotional excitation the 
rat was tested on the maze. The learning process of the emotionally 
excited animals was compared with that of the non-emotional con- 
trols. The emotionally aroused animals showed an increase in the 
following values: the time spent in running, the total time con- 
sumed in learning the maze and the number of trials needed to 
master it; the variability from trial to trial; the total distance trav- 
ersed; the number of errors made. In other words, emotionally 
excited rats were more prone to enter blind alleys; they were more 
variable and slower in maze learning than quiescent animals.* 

That an emotional disturbance makes the human subject un- 
steady in his movement can be illustrated by Laird's findings upon 
the effect of razzing. Every baseball fan is familiar with the prac- 
tice of razzing the umpire, the pitcher, or the batter; the razzing 
consists of personal remarks which range from mildly discouraging 
to highly uncomplimentary, or even to actual insults. We assume 
here that such razzing evokes an emotional response. 

Laird attempted to determine the effect of razzing by using a 
series of simple motor tests which were given to eight fraternity 
pledges under two conditions. First, the tests were made under con- 
ditions of friendly competition. The active members of the chapter 
and the other pledges watched the performance of each individual ; 
respectful silence was maintained, and each pledge did his best to 
outstrip the others. Two nights later the tests were repeated under 
similar conditions except that by previous arrangement there was 
free-for-all razzing of the pledges which, Laird reports, was beyond 
doubt genuine and effective. On the second occasion the pledges 
were brought into the room one at a time. Tests were made of the 

* Inasmuch as anger and fear are antagonistic to hunger, these effects might be referred 
to a reduction of the hunger drive. 



speed of tapping, muscular coordination (three-hole test), and 
steadiness of movement while sitting and while standing. 

Results show that for all subjects there was a loss of steadiness 
during razzing. The standing test of steadiness revealed the greatest 
alteration; this test-performance utilizes the gross leg and trunk 
muscles as well as the finer ones of the arm. 

In the tapping test and the muscular-coordination test the result 
of razzing was not so uniform. In tapping speed five subjects 
showed a gain and three a loss, under razzing, which reminds one 
of Moede's result with a tapping test, namely, that rivalry speeded 
up some subjects and slowed down others (pp. 401-403). In the mus- 
cular-coordination tests three subjects showed a gain and five a loss, 
but the general average for the group reveals a loss of motor control 
during razzing. The most uniform result of razzing, however, so 
far as Laird's experiment is concerned, is its disorganizing effect 
upon the steadiness of movement 

The Kinds and Conditions of Emotional Disruption* 
According to the Yerkes-Dodson law as determined by the dis- 
crimination technique (pp. 280-287), the speed of habit formation 
increases up to a certain point as the strength of the electric shock 
which is used as punishment is augmented. The law implies that 
beyond a critical intensity further increase of incentive results in a 
slowing down of the learning process. The law states that the opti- 
mum degree of motivation for a given task varies inversely with the 
difficulty; and that for any given task retardation of learning occurs 
if the degree of motivation is raised above the optimum. This law 
demonstrates the validity of the conceptions of undermotivation, 
overmotivation, optimal motivation. 

Not only overmotivation or overstimulation, as noted above, but 
also any blocking of a strongly aroused impulse brings a disorgan- 
ization of behavior. When the course of behavior runs smoothly, 
emotion is absent. Free activities such as walking, eating, and ad- 
ding figures are typically non-emotional; undisturbed purposive 
acts go along indifferently, or possibly with mild interest to the sub- 
ject. But when thwarting of a powerful motive occurs and the 
cerebral control of behavior is reduced, there is an emotional out- 
burst. With animals, too, the frustration of any strongly aroused 
impulse is sure to evoke a show of emotional excitement. As 


Claparede said in the above quotation, fear occurs when flight is 
impossible, and anger is displayed when one cannot strike his 
enemy. Sexual feeling turns into emotion when the impulse is 

The child of six or seven years is highly impulsive. An activity 
which has been clearly suggested to him is generally carried out 
with little or no restraint. He has very great difficulty, as Luria 
has shown, in delaying an action for which. he has been specifically 
prepared. When a prepared action is restrained by such words as 
"Don't do that/' "If you do that, you'll be spanked/' the conflict 
expresses itself in crying and through struggling to carry out the 
impulsive act. Thus, if the child wants to play with a toy, to ex- 
amine some object, to ride a bicycle, to eat a piece. of pie,, and if 
the desired activity is blocked,, emotion occurs. When blocking is 
removed, as by giving the child something he wants, the emotion 
of joy appears. The joyful child jumps up and down and runs 
around in general excitement. 

With the adult, as with the child, thwarting of any strongly 'mo- 
tivated activity is a cause of emotional excitement. Obvious examples 
can be found in the sphere of thwarted sexual motives. Uncertainty 
as to the outcome of a love situation heightens sexual emotion. The 
period of courtship is one in which sexual emotion is more marked 
than during married life largely because of the uncertainty, the 
delay, the arousal and partial thwarting of the sexual^ urge. Direct 
and uninhibited sexual union is not so highly' emotional an experi- 
ence as that which is delayed by a period of sexual play. 

One special kind of thwarting of the sexual urge is that which 
occurs when there is a rival. In the triangular situation of two males 
and one female, or two females and one male, the obstructed ex- 
pression of sexual behavior may lead to anger and attack, or pos- 
sibly to fear, grief, or to an attitude of resentment or jealousy. 

Another very common condition of human emotion is the con- 
flict between sexual motives and moral principles. Free sexual ex- 
pression is held in check by mental attitudes which are based upon 
moral and religious training; the individual may believe that all 
sexual activity is sinful and unclean (which attitude is a hindrance 
to a satisfactory marital adjustment). There are also fears of preg- 
nancy, social disgrace, of disease which inhibit the natural expres- 


sion of the impulses of sex. Further^ one's sense of self-esteem and 
standing in the community (prestige motivation) often blocks sex- 
ual expression. In polite society open displays of the sexual impulses 
and even verbal references to sex are taboo. Except in persons who 
marry young, all these counter-sexual factors thwart the sexual im- 
pulses in such a way as to heighten conflict aad emotionality. 

A distinctly different cause of emotional disruption is found in 
the case of grief and weeping. Grief is induced by the loss of some- 
thing which is valued; the loss brings a disturbance of mental equi- 
librium, maladjustment. Lund has made a careful study of weeping 
by observing the situations which induce weeping at funerals aad 
the theater. He found, as we noted on p. 372., that people became 
lacrimose when the unpleasant situation gained a redeeming fea- 
turewhen some alleviating circumstance appeared. Emphasis upon 
the redeeming feature accentuated the conflict and maladjustment. 
Likewise in watching a play, the audience is prone to weep when 
the hero, in a tragic situation, displays courage, self-renunciation, 
or kindness, or when succor comes to him from an unexpected 

The disruption of laughter occurs when there is a marked upset 
of mental equilibrium. A sudden transition, an abrupt change from 
one inental organization to another, will bring laughter if the 
change be a happy one, Lc. f a shift which elevates one's self-esteem, 
or releases inhibited sexual impulses, or condemns one's enemy, or 
presents one with a novel and unexpected situation, or imagina- 
tively satisfies some desire. At the instant of transition laughter 
occurs and persists until a readjustment of mental equilibrium has 
taken place. 

Allport believes that laughter is an innate response to stimulation 
of the sensitive zones or ticklish spots of the body. The elemental 
joke consists in being tickled. As the infant develops, the range of 
things that come to be laughed at is extended by experience. Allport 

The most obvious thing about tickling is that it represents a great 
fuss about nothing. It is the light touches and pokes that evoke 
laughter. But it is also true that the ticklish zones overlie some of 
the most vital organs of the body. Hence there is something terrible 

44 6 


in a thrust at these parts which throws into relief the antagonistic 
pleasant emotion aroused by the playful outcome of the thrust. The 
tickler moreover does not miss the opportunity of making the feint 
as sudden and terrifying as possible in order to get the heartiest 
peal of laughter from the child when the latter finds he is only 
being tickled. This is precisely the situation in numerous funny 
events of daily life. There is a sudden passage from a strained ex- 
pectancy to nothingness (Kant's theory of humor), or else a rapid 
shift from bigness, weight, or seriousness to the small and inconse- 
quential (Lipps). It is the humorous passage from the sublime to 
the ridiculous. Fun of this type is common on the stage and in the 
circus. The acrobat takes a running leap and somersaults over four 
horses. The clown then runs down the platform in swaggering 
imitation, but suddenly stops and brushes a fly from the nearest 

Not only is the transition effected between contrasting and in- 
congruous situations; it is also a sudden transition. Suddenness, 
physiologically considered, means the abrupt change from one type 
of attitude to another. . . . 

The specific conditions which produce emotional disruption are 
protean. Countless situations induce rage, terror, agony, weeping, 
laughter, and so on; and the outer expression of these major emo- 
tions varies with the situation. The one thing all emotions have in 
common is this: behavior is disorganized, disrupted; the individual 
for the time loses control of himself. When emotional, he lacks 
poise, composure. 

Whether the disorganization is aroused directly by the outer sit- 
uation, or whether it is induced by an imaginative reliving of the 
past, the fundamental nature and psychological significance of the 
disturbance are the same. An emotion is a disintegration of be- 
havior, a symptom of imbalance of motivating conditions within 
the personality. 

How Can These Views Be Synthesized? The view that 
emotion is a serviceable reaction has been much strengthened of 
late by the physiological investigations of Cannon and his collabora- 
tors, who have demonstrated in detail the biological utility of the 
internal bodily processes of emotion. These important researches 
will be considered later in this chapter. For the present it is best to 



admit that emotional behavior contains biologically useful compo- 
nents such as snarling, snapping, clawing, and the like, and that 
the internal bodily changes of certain emotions prepare the organism 
for vigorous activity. In the proper environment a great many of 
the bodily changes of emotion do appear to be serviceable to the 
organism in its struggle for existence. 

Proceeding on the basis of the Darwinian assumption one can 
pair off adaptive behavior and emotion as follows: 


Fight or attack upon enemy Anger, rage 

Flight, escape from danger Fear, terror 

Copulation Sexual love 

Nursing, care of young Maternal love 

This plan is suggestive of McDougall's parallel lists of the instincts 
and conscious emotions. 

The list is incomplete. Even Darwin admitted the presence of 
useless elements in many emotional manifestations. If one stresses 
the disorganizing, disruptive character of emotion, one can pair off 
the cause of disruption with the resultant emotion, and arrive at a 
wholly different list, as follows: 


Loss of loved person or of some- 
thing valued Grief 

Presence of "sickening" object. . . . Nausea, disgust 

Sexual rival Jealousy 

Loss of self-esteem Humiliation (negative self-feeling), 

or other emotion such as resent- 
ment, envy, anger, depending 
upon the situation 
Sudden disturbance of the mental 
equilibrium producing a happy 
result Laughter 

According to the view that emotion is a disorganization of be- 
havior, strongly motivated patterns of adaptive and integrated activ- 
ity such as fighting, escaping from danger, copulating, must be 
sharply distinguished from emotion. Emotion occurs only when 
behavior is inhibited, thwarted, blocked, when stimulation is too 
intense, or when there is some marked disturbance of mental equi- 


Ilbrium. The more definite and widespread the disorganization the 
more certainly Is the reaction an emotional one. 

Now we do not have to choose between the two main interpreta- 
tions of emotional excitement. Both appear to be correct. Conse- 
quently our task is to bring into true relation with each other. 
In doing this several points need to be made: 

Behavioral patterns which are highly adaptive In one situation 
are often entirely useless In another. For example, all the bodily 
processes of anger are useful when a man is forced to fight a wild 
beast In the forest, but the same physiological changes are harmful 
when this man Is attending a formal dinner party and, losing his 
temper, threatens to fight. The internal organic changes which en- 
abled Coulter to escape with his life from the Indians were highly 
serviceable, but they would be disintegrating If his goal were to 
give a lecture, play a concert, or write a scientific book. Being In 
love Is biologically useful when the reproductive urge can express 
itself freely, but this same state Is disruptive to the college student 
who is trying to master a history lesson. Adjustment and maladjust- 
ment, adaptation and disruption are, after all, relative to the en- 
vironmental situation as well as to the organism. 

Agaui 3 the cerebrum Is an Inhibitor of the primitive reactions 
which are regulated by the subcortical centers. These biologically 
primitive activities are adaptive In the cruel situations of the jungle, 
and, for better or for worse, they dominate behavior when cerebral 
control Is lost. During an emotion an Individual literally loses his 
head; cerebral control and regulation are disturbed; there is a re- 
gression to the archaic patterns of life-preserving activity. Thus It 
is true that the loss of cerebral control brings disintegration of deli- 
cately coordinated behavior; it is equally true that many of the 
behavioral patterns to which the emotionally excited organism re- 
verts are, or once were, biologically adaptive. 

One final point needs to be stressed in this discussion. The ques- 
tion of whether emotions are disruptive or adaptive is, after all, one 
of interpretation rather than fact. A purely factual study of emo- 
tional excitement Is possible, and this, indeed, is the most truly 
scientific approach to the problem. Emotional reactions do occur 
in nature, regardless of how psychologists interpret them. Let us, 
then, examine emotional processes from the factual standpoint 




The literature dealing with emotional behavior contains numer- 
ous descriptions of the expressive movements which appear when 
an organism is emotionally excited. These outward signs of emo- 
tion are evident even to the most casual observer. Consider, as an 
example^ the account of rage in Darwin's classical work: 

We will now turn to the characteristic symptoms of Rage. Under 
this powerful emotion the action of the heart is much accelerated, 
or it may be much disturbed. The face reddens, or it becomes pur- 
ple from the impeded return of the blood, or may turn deadly pale. 
The respiration is laboured, the chest heaves, and the dilated nostrils 
quiver. The whole body often trembles. The voice is affected. The 
teeth are clenched or ground together, and the muscular system is 
commonly stimulated to violent, almost frantic action. But the ges- 
tures of a man in this state usually differ from the purposeless 
writhings and struggles of one suffering from an agony of pain; 
for they represent more or less plainly the act of striking or fighting 
with an enemy. 

Again, consider Mantegazza's picture of the physiognomy of fear: 

The skin becomes white and cold, and later, damp with sweat; 
the heart beats violently and irregularly, then becomes slow; respira- 
tion is laboured, the hair stands erect as under the influence of cold. 
If fear increases until it becomes terror, the sides of the nostrils 
dilate; the eyes open disproportionately, and contemplate the object 
which causes us so much fear; they may even be unconsciously 
turned and move convulsively from side to side. The muscles of the 
face are convulsed; the whole body may oscillate like a pendulum 
and present spasmodic movements of a different nature; finally, 
muscular paralysis gives to the body the aspect of a corpse or of 
imminent syncope; and the bowels, relaxing, allow all they contain 
to escape. 

In such descriptions a great many bodily processes are mentioned : 
changes in respiration, dilation and quivering of the nostrils, trem- 
bling, affected voice, clenching and grinding of the teeth, violent 
action of the gross muscular system, posturing of the body for the 
act of striking or fighting, convulsive movement' of eyes and facial 


muscles, oscillation of the body, muscular paralysis. These and 
similar changes prove that there exists a widespread involvement 
of skeletal muscles and of the cerebrospinal nervous system. The 
quickening of the heart, the reddening or paling of the face, the 
pouring out of sweat, the erection of the hairs, the relaxing of the 
bowels, the dilation of the pupil these are the surface manifesta- 
tions of profound internal bodily changes which, as we know, are 
regulated through the autonomic nervous system and chemical 
agents in the blood. 

The Etymology of Emotion Words. The word "emotion" 
is derived from the Latin e (out) and movere (to move). Originally 
the word meant a moving out of one place into another in the sense 
of a migration. Thus: "The divers emotions of that people (the 
Turks)" (1603). "Some accidental Emotion ... of the Center of 
Gravity" (1695). The word came to mean a moving, stirring, agi- 
tation, perturbation, and was so used in a strictly physical sense. 
Thus: "Thunder . . . caused so great an Emotion in the air" 
(1708). "The waters continuing in the caverns . . . caused the emo- 
tion or earthquake" (.1758). This physical meaning was gradually 
transferred to political and social agitation, the word coming to 
mean tumult, popular disturbance. Thus: "There were . . . great 
stirres and emocions in Lombardye" (1579). "Accounts of Public 
Emotions, occasioned by the Want of Corn" (1709). Finally the 
word came to be used to designate any agitated, vehement, or ex- 
cited mental state of the individual. Thus: "The joy of gratification 
is properly called an emotion" (1762). 

In describing emotional and conative states, writers commonly 
refer to the parts of the body presumably determining those states. 
In the Bible one reads the phrase "bowels of mercies." Shakespeare 
in Lucrecc writes: "To quench the coale that in his liver glowes." 
In a record from Waltham Abbey dated 1554 are these words: 
"This bishop was bloody Bonner, that corpulent tyrant, full (as 
one said) of guts and empty of bowels; . . ." Modern slang con- 
tains similar phrases: "He has plenty of gall"; "He got his spleen 
up"; "He could not stomach it"; "Have a heart"; "He lacked the 
guts"; "Es ist ihm etwas iiber die Leber gelaufen (He is peeved)." 

This reference to those body-parts which are strongly affected 
during emotional excitement was found also in a study by Kurath 


upon the semantic sources of words which designate feelings and 
emotions in Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, and the Germanic languages. 
Kurath's etymologic study shows that emotion names have been 
derived from previous words designating the parts of the body in- 
volved in emotional reaction (heart, breast, viscera, gall, liver, 
spleen), from the responses of the body to emotional situations 
(cries, interjections, irregular breathing), from sensory presentations 
which determine emotional experiences. To illustrate, a few exam- 
ples are chosen. The words at the left are the earlier meanings, and 
those at the right the meanings derived from them as the language 


Grasp Desire, greed 

Tremble Fear 

Blush Passion, love, delight 

Make noise Rejoice 

Grumble, grind the teeth Anger, wrath, sorrow, grief 

Various interjections Wail, suffering, sad 

Vigor, strength Passion, courage, daring 

Labor, toil Suffering, misery, distress 

Play Amusement, mirth 

It will be seen that the earlier words designate behavior or be- 
havioral characteristics more de